KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)– Long-term care facilities could receive the COVID-19 vaccine as early as Monday, according to Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey.

“We do begin vaccinating in long-term care facilities beginning on Monday through pharmacy partners,” Piercey said.

Officials at South High Senior Living said the most difficult part about getting ready for the vaccine is not knowing precise details about it.

“Much like the rest of the year learning about this virus is the same as learning about the clinics and learning about the vaccine process,” Heather Haley, sales and marketing director with South High Senior Living, said.

Helen Porter, executive director of South High Senior Living, said they did know some aspects about the process of vaccinating their staff and residents, such as who would be administering the shots.

“We have partnered with a local pharmacy, Mac’s Pharmacy, to implement our vaccination clinic,” Porter said.

Porter said she does know South High is first in line when Mac’s Pharmacy receives the vaccine. As soon as they receive it, she knows they will be at South High as quickly as possible.

Porter said however, if Walgreens or CVS receive the vaccine before Mac’s Pharmacy, it was OK for residents and staff to get vaccinated through the chain pharmacies.

“They have encouraged us and said, ‘Absolutely coordinate that clinic with them. We want your residents to get that vaccination as quickly as possible’,” Porter said.

Porter said the vaccinations would be done in house in order to limit exposure through transportation.

Both Porter and Haley said the vaccine will bring hope to residents and staff.

They will still have to follow COVID-19 guidelines after even receiving both doses of the vaccine, but they hope some of those restrictions can be loosened up, safely, just a little bit.

“Our residents may be able to go back out like they used to, but again, with social distancing and masks and precautions until we do know from the direction of the CDC that we can resume to what was pre-COVID and get back to that normal,” Haley said.

In the meantime, South High will be trying to make Christmas as special as they can for their residents and families.

“Residents will enjoy some delicious beef tenderloin, so they are certainly getting a great meal. We have been doing a lot of gift opening via our window visits and lots of FaceTime calls,” Porter said.

The hope is next Christmas will be back to normal.

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