Over 600 residents, employees receive COVID-19 vaccine at The Clare

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After nearly a year of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and working diligently to keep residents safe, The Clare finally sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

Approximately 580 residents, employees, caregivers and others associated with The Clare received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on January 8, with the second dose scheduled for February 5. Employees and residents who missed the first clinic date will be eligible to receive their first dose at the February clinic, which will bring the number of those vaccinated at The Clare to over 600.

Following the initial January clinic, 99% of residents had received the first vaccination dose, as well as about 50% of employees. The goal is to have over 90% of the overall community totally or partially vaccinated following the February 5 clinic date. The final clinic will take place on March 5 at The Clare.

Executive Director Kyle Exline receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on January 8.

“This is something we have all been looking forward to for so long,” Executive Director Kyle Exline says. “The most rewarding aspect was seeing how excited and emotional residents were to receive the vaccine. It was truly a historic and groundbreaking moment, and to be part of that with the residents was incredible.”

While the initial distribution of nearly 600 vaccines took place over just 8 hours in January, logistical and operational planning occurred for weeks beforehand. In October, The Clare partnered with Walgreens for the administration of the vaccine, and Walgreens confirmed the clinic dates about two weeks before the first one took place.

From there, the community worked out as many details as possible ahead of the first clinic. This involved registering residents and employees who wished to receive the vaccine, organizing appointment times to limit long lines and excessive wait times and maintaining appropriate COVID safety and distancing measures throughout the day.

“We had to be thoughtful of all elements and make the experience a quick and effortless one for everyone,” Kyle says.

In the end, these preparations resulted in efficient, successful vaccine administration.

“The pre-organization paid off,” Administrator Monica Rusboldt says. “The day went really smoothly, and people did not have to wait extensively for their vaccine. It was also really great to see people happy and excited about something!”

Administrator Monica Rusboldt receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on January 8.

The City of Chicago’s vaccine distribution plan included residents and staff at long-term care facilities like The Clare as part of the initial rollout.

For residents like Jack Jennings and Steve Molinari, having access to the vaccine ahead of the general public represented a glimmer of hope in what has been a grueling, terrifying time in the world.

“We chose to get the COVID vaccine without a second thought,” Jack and Steve say. “The virus has controlled our lives for almost a year. Like most other people, we watched the havoc it created in our society and in our own lives. And, we did a lot of reading and listening, so when the vaccine was approved, we had no hesitation. We knew that the vaccine was the most effective means of gaining back our freedom.”

Offering the vaccine within the community also eliminated confusion around getting the vaccine individually, resident Roberta Weisberg says.

Resident Roberta Weisberg receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on January 8.

“I know people who live on their own have been unsure of where they can go to get the vaccine and when they can get it,” she says. “We haven’t had to worry about any of that, which is really remarkable. We’re very lucky.”

Above all else, though, the anticipation around the vaccine at The Clare largely revolved around safety.

“I was looking forward to getting the vaccine, knowing that I was taking the steps to protect myself in these difficult times,” resident Dr. Mary Davidson says.

Although the vaccine doesn’t yet eliminate necessary precautions around masks, testing and more, it certainly does provide more room for comfortability and movement around the community itself. The goal is to reinstate in-person dining and small group programs at The Clare, both in limited capacities within the state of Illinois’ restrictions, a few weeks after the administration of the second dose of the vaccine.

“We know we still have to follow the guidelines regarding masks and social distancing, but we have a sense that a heavy weight has been lifted,” Jack and Steve say. “It’s hard to express the feeling of relief!”