SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — As COVID-19 vaccines make their way into long-term care and senior living facilities, both staff and residents alike are hoping it will signal a return to “normalcy.”
Vaccine arrives at senior living facilities
For the majority of the year, residents of senior living communities have only been able to see family and friends while remaining socially distant.
“We’ve been able to do socially distant visits, which means a table with plexiglass in between,” Mandy Hampton, with The Ridge Senior Living, tells KSL Newsradio’s Dave and Dujanovic. “Obviously, no hugging, no touching at all, which is difficult, especially during the holidays.”
The hope held by Hampton, and countless others living and working in these facilities, is the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines will begin a transition back to regular daily life.
“We’re hopeful after the second dose of the vaccine that the state will take a look at revising their policies so that we can really have that human interaction that we’ve been craving for so long,” she explains.
Happening Today: More senior living communities getting vaccinated, including The Ridge Foothill. Below are photos shared with #ksl from yesterday’s #modernavaccine distribution at their Cottonwood Location. @KSL5TV #VaccineDay #Utah #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/K9mVPdw0ZN
— Felicia Martinez (@FeliciaKSL) December 29, 2020
According to Hampton, already some of their staff and residents have been vaccinated this week.
Organizing the second phase
It comes following an announcement by Utah’s Department of Health that individuals 75 years old and older will be moved into the second phase of their vaccine distribution plan. That means older Utahns will likely have access to COVID-19 vaccines starting sometime in mid-February.
Hampton said it will be life-changing if the expedited vaccine rollout means elderly Utahns will regain a personal connection with loved ones.
“The vaccine for us means freedom,” she said. “For us, this means long-term freedom, reconnection with family members and everything that they have been waiting so patiently for.”
It remains unclear who will join older Utahns in the second phase of scheduled vaccine distribution. To this point, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed a number of workers to be essential, including mail carriers, grocery store clerks and bus drivers.