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Local seniors excited as COVID-19 vaccine rolled out to more long-term care facilities
Arbor Terrace
A staff member at Arbor Terrace Johns Creek receives his first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. He was vaccinated along with half of the facility’s other staff members and all of the facility’s residents. Photo Courtesy of Arbor Terrace Johns Creek.

A couple, married for 68 years, living in Belmont Village Senior Living in Forsyth County happily received their COVID-19 vaccination along with nearly 100 other residents on Friday, Jan. 22.

Easton and Lila Wall, 90 and 92 respectfully, reflected on their time in the senior living community while they received the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, administered by Walgreens. They have grown accustomed now to seeing other residents and their daughter, Lynn, from a distance, but the isolation has weighed on them over the past 10 months.

For them, along with hundreds of other seniors and long-term care facility staff in Forsyth County, the vaccine is an exciting step in a positive direction.

Belmont Village Executive Director Jan Boatright said that, with 97% of their residents opting to receive the vaccine, they’re happy to finally see a vaccine that “could not have come fast enough” for them.

“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re looking forward to the day when our residents can finally see their families without having a window or a computer or phone screen in front of them,” Boatright said. “We’re looking forward to the day when they can finally hug and touch their families.”

Belmont Village plans to hold a second clinic with Walgreens in February for residents to receive their second doses and for the rest of the staff members to receive their first doses. They already scheduled a third clinic in March.

Arbor Terrace of Johns Creek also received the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for their residents and staff last week as they also set up a clinic through Walgreens. They will also have their second clinic next month, on Wednesday, Feb. 10.

Ashton Arnold, the executive director at Arbor Terrace, explained that all of the residents were vaccinated while only about half of the staff members received the vaccine. They planned to stagger these vaccinations just in case staff members were to have any negative side effects from the first doses.

Fortunately, she said no one in the community has experienced any negative symptoms.

“A lot of our residents didn’t even feel it,” Arnold said. “It was just like a normal flu shot. We were all excited. It was a really big day for us, of course.”

Arbor Terrace
A resident at Arbor Terrace gives a thumbs up after getting the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in his arm. Arbor Terrace residents and staff all shared excitement when Walgreens partnered with them to hold their first vaccine clinic.
Meanwhile, the county’s two nursing homes, Cumming Health and Rehab and Chestnut Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation, are set to receive second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for their residents this week, hopefully providing extra safety and comfort to residents and staff while COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Chestnut Ridge Administrator Melinda Huff said CVS administered the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine to their residents and staff on Jan. 5, and the same team came out to the facility again on Tuesday, Jan. 26, to administer their second doses.

“We are very excited about the vaccinations and pray they assist with opening LTC centers back up very soon,” Huff said. “We miss our families and volunteers.”

Cumming Health and Rehab also received first doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the beginning of January from CVS, but they found themselves in a unique situation as they prepared for CVS staff to return Thursday, Jan. 28, to administer the second doses — some of their residents who received the first dose had tested positive for COVID-19.

In the past few weeks, starting in late December, the nursing home has seen a rise in positive COVID-19 cases among its residents and staff members, as reported on its website. As of Jan. 21, they reported that 48 residents overall have tested positive with 23 residents who are currently positive. Another seven staff members are also currently positive for COVID-19.

“I can’t believe how fast COVID has gone through our building,” Director of Activities Debbie Swanson said.

Earlier in the week, Cumming Health and Rehab leaders were still unsure if they could continue with the second clinic, but the team from CVS was able to return on Thursday morning and give second doses to the staff and residents who needed them, including those currently positive with the COVID-19 virus.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the region and across the U.S., the care facilities plan to continue with strict safety guidelines. Even as residents become fully vaccinated, both Arnold and Boatright agreed that it would be safest to continue with safety measures even inside of the facility until more in the community have received the vaccination.

“It feels like we’re turning a corner,” Boatright said. “We’re heading in the right direction.”

Belmont Village Residents Recieve COVID-19 Vaccine

Residents at Belmont Village recieve their first doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. Video courtesy of Belmont Village.

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