South High Senior Living receives first dose of COVID-19 vaccine

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Signs of hope arrived at another assisted care living facility Monday morning: the COVID-19 vaccine.

South High Senior Living residents and staff lined up for their first dose of the Moderna shot. They said they couldn’t be more excited.

“Somebody asked why I got it and I said, ”cause I’m 80 years old,'” Evalyn Forlines, a resident, said.

Forlines said she’s looking forward to seeing family and friends in person.

“I have a lot of friends that come and come around the building and talk to me through my window,” Forlines said.

She said she’s also looking forward for her family not to worry. She has a little more protection now, and even more after the second dose.

“I’m excited that I won’t be a burden to my family. I mean, you know, I’ve done what I could, put it that way,” Forlines said.

South High just opened its doors in July, amid a pandemic.

So the wait for the vaccine wasn’t easy, but now that they have the first dose, they know it will be a morale boost for everyone.

Chelsea Irwin, Director of Sales and Marketing at South High, said the vaccine is important to help residents get back to a normal life.

“Engagement is super important and so we wanna make sure that we’re getting back to some type of normalcy, where we can have activities and full dining and have families visit, um so that we can have their most vibrant lives,” Irwin said.

Irwin said it was special to see her residents receive the vaccine. She said she got the vaccine so her residents can see families sooner rather than later.

It was even more special to receive the vaccine with a family member, her grandmother-in-law Forlines.

“To see her get the vaccine as well and be able to do that together with a family member was super, something I was super excited about,” Irwin said.

The wait was tough for those administering the vaccine as well.

Morgan Honeycutt, Director of Pharmacy at Mac’s LTC Pharmacy Solutions, said there were good and bad parts about the wait.

A good from delay is we’ve been sitting at the ready. We’ve had time to run through scenarios, prepare ourselves for when that day came. And when we got the call, we were ready to go,” Honeycutt said.

He said the bad part was not knowing when they were receiving the vaccine.

Honeycutt said things were looking brighter, as far as how fast they are able to host vaccination clinics at long-term care facilities.

“Early last week we made plans to be in, I believe, 15 to 16 communities over the next two days. That process will continue over the next two to three weeks,” Honeycutt said.

Forlines said she was grateful Mac’s Pharmacy came to South High to give their shots.

She said it wasn’t a big deal to get the shot. The big deal is what the shot can offer.

“I’ve had a lot of shots in my life, and that was the easiest one I believe I could, you could have,” Forlines said.

Irwin said South High is expected to receive the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine around Feb. 22 or 23.

She said COVID-19 safety protocols won’t change until they receive updates from the CDC or the state health department, even after the second dose.

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