MESA, Ariz. - Starting Monday, Dec. 28, the Pfizer vaccine is rolling out for staff and residents at assisted living facilities in Arizona.
2,400 assisted living facilities in the state signed up for the vaccine rollout, and Summit at Sunland Springs in Mesa says its staff and residents are excited to finally make this step toward normalcy.
"It was great. It was like getting a flu shot. It was a 'nonevent,' if you will," said the facility's executive director, Kristie Stark, one of the first among her community to receive the vaccine.
90 employees will get the shot, as well as 150 residents, she said, adding, "The vast majority of residents and family members I have spoken with have opted for the vaccine. They want the vaccine."
CVS administered Monday's vaccine and they will hold another clinic for the second dose in a few weeks. The facility will monitor its residents until then for any side effects.
"We will add daily screenings and checks for anyone taking the vaccine to make sure there weren't any adverse reactions," Stark said.
This doesn’t mean things can go back to normal just yet, but it's a step in the right direction.
"I think we are all willing to do what it takes to protect our residents. It means all of us getting the vaccine," Stark said.
CVS Health helps to vaccine the community's most vulnerable
Arizona is ramping up its COVID-19 vaccine efforts and starting Dec. 28, vaccines are being administered at hundreds of assisted living and skilled nursing facilities across the state.
The program is through a partnership with CVS health, all in an effort to get the most vulnerable communities vaccinated.
The CVS vaccine program is a nationwide effort that includes more than 40,000 long term care facilities.
In Arizona, a spokesperson with CVS Health says it'll be vaccinating patients in more than 900 care facilities, making the vaccine available to roughly 163,000 people.
The effort will take about 90 days and they will be visiting each facility three times. The company says they have brought in more staff to help with this initiative.
Vaccinating these communities gives people a sense of normalcy and the ability to see their friends and families again.
"When you think about the long-term care facilities in general this is a population that has not been able to see their families and friends since March and depending on the date in which they live and depending on the outbreak in the facility, they haven’t even been able to see the residents in the facility there and so they are social interactions have been minimal and their ability to see family and friends have not even existed," Tobin Zdarko with CVS Health explained.
CVS expects to complete these vaccinations to be done in approximately 12 weeks. They do plan on vaccinating the general public when it's time to do so.