‘I was anxious to get it when it first came out’: South Hill Village gets COVID vaccines

SPOKANE, Wash. – It’s been quiet for nearly a year at the South Hill Village, normally a place that’s hustling and bustling with activities.

However on Friday, it was loud and busy as people finally received their COVID vaccines.

Residents at the facility have been waiting for this, knowing they’re one step closer to seeing their families in-person again.

“We’ve gone through anniversaries and birthdays, by ourselves, not being able to share it with the family,” said Joan Ryan, a resident.

Ryan was a little anxious to get the vaccine on Friday, but she was ready.

“I’ve been there, done it,” she said, laughing.

Ryan got the polio vaccine when it first became available, remembering what it was like.

“I’ve lived through polio vaccine and all kinds of stuff. So, I’m not very afraid of it. In fact I’m glad they have it available. I’ve got a big deal of confidence in the doctors, I think it’d be okay,” she told 4 News Now.

Richard Green understands the importance of having to get the vaccine.

“Especially at our ages, it’s so important to get the shot. I’ll be glad when the second shot is over,” he said.

It’s been nearly a year since Green has been able to hug his wife and see his family. He’s been with his wife for more than 50 years, and the longest they went without seeing each other before was a week.

The pandemic changed that.

“She brings stuff and I’ll go down to the lobby a lot of times and wave at her. I get to see her that way but that’s not the same, of course,” he said.

At South Hill Village, 125 residents received the vaccine. Executive director Emiley Rios says only a handful opted out due to health reasons.

As for staff members, Rios said about 80 of their staff members received the shot; a few others were still thinking about it.

“We do not require it, we believe in your body your choice,” Rios said.

Initially, the Washington Health Care Association said it heard about 30 to 40 percent of staff “were taking a ‘wait and see'” approach to getting the vaccine.

“With the start of the second round of vaccinations staff uptake has increased significantly,” the association said, adding that it has no increased to 80 to 85 percent of long-term care staff deciding to get it.

As for residents in long-term care facilities, the association said about 95 percent of them would take it.

Green told 4 News Now he jumped at the opportunity to get the vaccine when he could.

“I was anxious to get it when it first came out. I would’ve been the first in line. I was third in line today for it and flu shot I was first in line,” he said.

RELATED: N. Idaho assisted living facility still waiting for first COVID vaccine dose

The long-term care facility is getting its vaccines through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership Program. Rios said they were told they’d get them around the holidays. However, it’s been a slow rollout in Washington, Idaho and across the country.

“It has been a little bit of a delay, but ultimately we’re excited that it’s now and not prolonged anymore,” she said.

All 200 nursing homes in Washington already received their first round of vaccines, with some in the process of finishing their second rounds.

As for assisted living facilities, of the 525 licensed places, the association says half have received their first dose of vaccines. The other half should have theirs done by late January or early February.

LIST: Spokane clinics and providers giving COVID vaccinations