clr patient nurse

Thomas McAndrews, a resident of the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and Jennifer George, LNA, a staff member there, receive the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

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BENNINGTON — More than 100 residents and healthcare workers at the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week, in the first of three clinics to ensure that the entire staff and resident population receives the necessary two shots.

The vaccines were administered by Walgreens Pharmacy.

The first vaccines were given to CLR resident Thomas McAndrews and licensed nursing assistant Jennifer George. Both volunteered to be the first to receive the vaccine. An additional 130 healthcare workers and residents received the vaccine throughout the day.

“The pandemic has been a very long, lonely time for many of our residents,” Suzanne Anair, CLR’s administrator, said in a statement. “We are overjoyed to receive the vaccine and to begin putting an end to the fear and isolation that the pandemic has caused.”

CLR provides short- and long-term nursing care, and is part of Southwestern Vermont Health Care.

Vaccine information is available on the health system’s website, svhealthcare.org. It includes the phased vaccination plan, which indicates that healthcare workers who have direct contact with COVID-19 patients and adults who live in long-term care settings will be the first to be vaccinated, followed by first responders, essential workers, adults with high-risk medical conditions, and adults over the age of 65.

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Phase II, which is anticipated to launch by the end of February, includes homeless and disabled populations and those who live and work in congregant settings, like group homes and prisons. Phase III includes the general population and is expected to begin by April. As vaccines are made available, the website will also include who can get a vaccine and how to schedule. Those who have questions may call the COVID-19 Hotline at 802-440-8844.

“I was really looking forward to this, since I heard about it on TV,” McAndrews, said. An Adams, Mass., native, McAndrews recognized the name of the vaccine manufacturer, Pfizer, from their operation in the area. “To think they came up with the vaccine… I like that.” After receiving the shot, McAndrews quipped. “Barely felt it. That’s it?”

George, of Bennington, has always been apprehensive about shots, “even the flu shot,” she said. After receiving the shot, she exhaled. “It’s okay. I am better now.” Her co-workers gave her a small cheer when it was done.

Vaccinations against COVID-19 began last Wednesday in Bennington County, with approximately 75 healthcare workers at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Mask wearing, distancing, handwashing, and testing will continue to be important until after 75 percent of the population has been vaccinated. Public health experts project that restrictions could be lifted as early as this fall.


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