Many residents and staff at senior and assisted living facilities in Moscow and Pullman have either received or are scheduled this month to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination.

The vaccine is not mandatory, so residents and staff can choose not to get vaccinated. Officials at local facilities that have already administered the vaccine said most residents and employees opted to get it and had no severe reactions.

In Moscow, the vaccine was administered Saturday to Good Samaritan Society assisted living and skilled nursing residents as well as some staff and independent residents, said Tammie Poe, director of sales and marketing at GSS.

Poe said the remainder of independent residents and staff have the opportunity to get vaccinated Jan. 22, and those who received the first dose Saturday can get their second dose Jan. 23.

She said 55 percent of employees received the vaccine, and she expects that figure to climb at the next vaccination clinic Jan. 22. Eighty-five percent of skilled nursing and assisted living residents were vaccinated.

“I think most people were really excited to get it actually and looking forward to the ability to kind of get back to their lives and be able to see their family members and friends again,” Poe said.

She said the most common side effect, which she herself experienced, was soreness in the upper arm where the vaccine was administered. Fatigue, headaches and some nausea were other common reactions to the vaccine. Poe said nobody had severe reactions.

“We’re hopeful that the bulk of the public will also get the vaccine and that it will be kind of the start of some semblance back to normal because 2020 was a rough year for pretty much everybody,” Poe said.

Anita Young, community relations director at Regency Pullman, said residents and staff received their first vaccination Thursday. She said she believed every resident and staff member were vaccinated and that the second dose will be administered in the next two weeks.

Just like at GSS, Young said there were no serious reactions to the vaccine, just excitement that the vaccination finally arrived at the retirement and assisted living facility.

“I felt like spirits were lifted for sure,” she said.

Also in Pullman, Laurie Brown, executive director at Bishop Place Senior Living, said most residents and staff chose to be vaccinated. Residents received their first vaccination this week and both residents and staff will receive their second dose sometime this month.

She said the vaccinations went very well with no significant reactions.

Back in Moscow, Rachel Zimmerman, administrator at Aspen Park of Cascadia, said residents and staff at the rehabilitation and skilled nursing care facility will be able to receive their first dose Thursday. Linda Vestal, administrator at Palouse Hills Assisted Living and Memory Care, said residents and staff can get their first shot Jan. 18.

Scott Schlegel, public information officer for Public Health – Idaho North Central District, said in an email that the vaccination effort is going well so far. He said the vaccine has been distributed to the five hospitals in the five counties within the district, which includes Gritman Medical Center in Moscow.

Schlegel said the health district is now starting to focus on inpatient and outpatient clinics along with long-term care facilities, using the prioritization list from the Idaho COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee.

“Our number one goal for the vaccine is that there is zero waste, and that everyone who would like to receive a vaccine will get an opportunity to do so,” he said.

According to a Whitman County Public Health news release, WCPH is in Phase 1A of the distribution framework laid out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington State Department of Health.

As more vaccines become available and supplies allow WCPH to move into Phase 1B, it will follow all CDC and WSDH guidance to prioritize distribution, the release said.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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