Frontline healthcare workers were among the first to receive the vaccine statewide. Then, Christmas came early for a few hundred seniors in Metro Atlanta today.
Sterling Estates senior care communities received 400 doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine to give to residents and staff at its three locations, including two in Cobb County and one in Fayette County.
Medical staff with Transitional Care Partners of America and Guardian Pharmacy administered the vaccines Thursday. Nathan Madigan, Sterling Estates Vice President of Operations, believes the recipients were among the first seniors to get the vaccine in Georgia.
Marvin Moon is a retired Atlanta Police detective. He was the first resident at Sterling Estates to get the vaccine.
“I didn’t feel a thing, the staff was wonderful," Moon said. "I’m honored to be the first one to take the shot. This epidemic can come to an end."
The Peach State is currently in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout plan, which includes healthcare workers who have direct or indirect exposure to COVID-19 patients, hospital staff, public health clinical staff, first responders, urgent care and long term care facility staff. Clinical staff and long term care facility residents are also included in Phase 1 of Georgia's vaccine distribution plan.
Vickie Henderson was the first staff member to get the vaccine at Sterling Estates. She recently lost her brother-in-law to COVID-19, and she said residents have dealt with infections and loss in their own social circles since the pandemic began.
“It's scary, trying to keep the residents safe, knowing I’m going home every day to my husband and child and not knowing if I’m passing it on," Henderson said. Just talking to you makes me want to go in tears. Knowing I can walk around and feel safe now means everything to me. It means life to me.”
Madigan, who spearheaded efforts for the vaccine to come to Sterling Estates, said getting the vaccine brought the long term care facility full circle.
“Unfortunately we had early asymptomatic transmission of the virus in our building back in March, before anyone knew what PPE stood for, before anybody knew what coronavirus was," he said. "Now, to be one of the first if not the first to be able to offer the vaccine to our residents, it kind of feels like that full circle moment in a gift we’re able to deliver on Christmas Eve."
The second dose will be administered to Sterling Estates residents and staff in three to four weeks, according to Madigan.