Residents of Cypress Village, a continuing care retirement community in Jacksonville, have been among the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as a part of the nation’s fight against the novel coronavirus that took the world by storm less than a year ago.
In October, Cypress Village registered the community and partnered with CVS Pharmacy to procure some of the first available COVID-19 vaccines. The first doses of the vaccine were delivered to Cypress Village on Dec. 21, less than a week after Pfizer received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the vaccine that was proven 95% effective in preventing COVID-19 in clinical trial participants.
As a part of phase 1 of the distribution process, the first to receive the vaccine were residents living in the community’s longterm care, as well as assisted living and memory care residents and the frontline employees who work in those areas.
“The continued health and safety of our residents and employees is our number one priority” said Ty Morgan, executive director at Cypress Village, “We have done a tremendous job at mitigating exposure to the virus, and the vaccine is just another tool in our tool kit”
In January, the community began offering vaccinations to the more than 700 residents in independent living, the majority of whom are over the age of 65.
“I was amazed at how efficiently it was run for so many people there,” said Anna Kochan, a resident of the community who received the vaccine.
Each resident who signed up for the vaccine clinic received an appointment confirmation via a notice in their mailbox with an exact time and date they were scheduled to get the shot. Residents arrived at Egret Hall, the community’s auditorium, and were seen within the hour by a pharmacist from CVS.
Louise Fonteccio moved to Cypress Village in August 2020, and got her shot in January,
“With all the news of everyone having to stand in line for hours, not being able to get appointments, it just makes me feel so fortunate that we can get the shot right here at Cypress Village!” she said.
When asked about side effects, several residents reported feeling tired or a slight soreness in their arm in the days following getting their vaccine, but no one reported any symptom that lasted more than a few days.
Cypress Village continues to host vaccine clinics for interested residents and staff, and, to date, has administered more than 750 shots, or over 70% of those who reside or work at the community. The fight with COVID-19 is far from over, but residents and employees of Cypress Village consider being vaccinated the beginning of the end. It has been an unprecedented time of social distancing, mask wearing and some major restrictions to how the community operates, but residents are hopeful that we can soon get back to normal life with the help of the vaccine.
“When I reflect on the last year at Cypress Village, I am proud of what we have faced and overcome as a community and a family,” Morgan said. “One year ago today, none of us could have predicted what we would be facing in this time. Understanding the sacrifice required in these past months, I am proud of the initiative that both residents and staff have taken to maintain their personal health and safety, and that of others within our community.”