Opelika nursing home administers first dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 5:51 PM EST
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OPELIKA, Ala. (WTVM) - Arbor Springs Health and Rehab, a nursing home and rehabilitation center in Opelika, joyfully administered the first round of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to residents and employees Monday.

It was a day of celebration at the facility on Pepperell Parkway.

“We have planned and planned for this,” said Arbor Springs’ administrator, Annie Swanson.

Swanson was one of the first to be vaccinated.

“I didn’t even feel it go into my arm,” she said. “I was telling them it’s better than getting a flu shot.”

Physically, she didn’t feel much with the vaccine, but she did emotionally.

“We feel relief, happiness, joy,” she said. “It’s a celebration.”

According to Swanson, about 93 percent of residents and 75 percent of staff were vaccinated, including Cheri Place-Chaffin, who shared it’s been stressful caring for the most vulnerable population in the state during the pandemic.

“We come to work everyday with an edge of anxiety, wondering if it’s back, wondering when it could come back, wondering how much harm it could cause if and when it does come back,” Place-Chaffin said.

The virus was tough on Arbor Springs. According to officials, 18 residents contracted the virus and later died, and dozens more got the virus and recovered.

So, this vaccine, which was stored and administered by CVS Health, is bringing a sense of comfort.

“We’ve had a lot of residents that have suffered from COVID and we’ve lost a few as well,” Place-Chaffin said. “To know we have something that can save and enhance their quality of life is important to me.”

According to Swanson, the second dose of the vaccine will be administered January 25.

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