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caption: Flor Craig (r) injects Parkshore resident Lovie Therriault with her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine, December 21, 2020.
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Flor Craig (r) injects Parkshore resident Lovie Therriault with her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine, December 21, 2020.
Credit: Courtesy of Transforming Age

'The best Christmas present.' Seattle Senior living community gets Covid-19 vaccine

Flor Craig placed her palm on the shoulder of 92-year-old LaVaughn “Lovie” Therriault and said a prayer.

“Lord above, (may) this Covid vaccine that I am giving to this resident help us prevent this disease,” Craig, an assisted living manager recounted.

Over and over, a prayer for each injection, each shoulder, each senior.

“This will prevent us from any residents getting sick,” Craig said, tearing up.

After Therriault got her dose, she tapped her toes, swayed her arms and danced.

“I was real excited and real happy and didn’t even feel it,” she said. “I think everyone should get it if they’ve got a chance.”

Vaccinations against Covid-19 continue to rollout in Washington state, with the first residents and staff of senior living communities getting doses this week. In Seattle’s Madison Park neighborhood, Parkshore was the first retirement community to begin vaccinations.

No one has gotten Covid at Parkshore, but cases continue to rise in long-term care facilities across Washington. Over 1,580 residents of long-term care facilities have died from Covid in the state, or more than half of Covid deaths here, according to data from the state Department of Health.

Parkshore, which received doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from their pharmacy, Consonus Healthcare, was able to start vaccinations earlier than other senior living communities, which are working with CVS and Walgreens.

Parkshore vaccinated around 46 skilled nursing and assisted living residents and around 50 staff, health services director Roger Moore said. They hope to be able to vaccinate the remaining staff and residents soon, he added.

Moore got the first shot to instill confidence in his staff, he said.

His mother lives in an assisted living community across Lake Washington in Kirkland. Once Moore is certain of the vaccine’s protection against Covid, visiting his mother is the first thing he wants to do.

“Visits with mom have drastically reduced in number; they're limited to waves through the window, sometimes an outdoor visit in a tent,” he said. “We're certainly looking for when we can hug our loved ones again, and that'll be a special, special moment.”

Therriault’s daughter Teresa Cannon said visiting her mother at a distance has been tough — and especially isolating for her mother.

“Sometimes she’ll start coming towards us and we just have to remind her that we can’t hug right now, and my mom is a hugger,” Cannon said.

Therriault’s vaccination is bringing joy and “a sense of relief,” she said.

Many residents were thankful to receive vaccinations on Monday, Craig said. “They said that this is the best Christmas present they’ve ever had."