Residents, staff at Generations at Peoria receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — COVID-19 vaccines are arriving to some of the most vulnerable population in central Illinois.

After months of closing nursing homes and facilities to visitors, some staff members said they’re now on the path to reopening.

“We want to see the end of this and I think this is a huge step,” said Charlotte Beard, the memory care unit director at Generations at Peoria.

Staff at Generations at Peoria said it’s been a challenging year, but the vaccine could begin to change that. It’s being distributed through CVS Pharmacy, which is partnering with the Center for Disease Control to vaccinate residents and staff at nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

“We have a very historic day because we’ve been hearing about getting a vaccine to help end the pandemic over the last few months, so it’s a great day,” said Elizabeth Graham, pharmacy manager for CVS Pharmacy on Lincoln Avenue in Peoria.

On Tuesday, residents and staff at Generations at Peoria got their first dose.

“My store received 195 vials of vaccine. There’s six doses per vial, and so we brought 21 of those vials here today,” said Graham.

For safety reasons, and under the state’s mitigation efforts, WMBD was not allowed inside Generations for Tuesday’s vaccinations. A company spokesperson took pictures and videos.

“It’s going to help with our families, our residents, and our staff maybe seeing a sense of normalcy coming back,” said Beard.

A physician’s assistant said it’s been a challenging year.

“Yeah it takes an extra step to put on a gown and gloves and make sure you have your mask and your shield, and in and out, and that takes extra time, but the care hasn’t changed,” said Amanda Parker, a physician assistant at UnityPoint Clinic who makes rounds at Generations.

Staff hope the vaccine brings changes.

“Gosh, I’ve hoped it would’ve come months ago, so I’m glad that we’re moving forward,” said Parker.

But they say it could be a while before the state’s COVID-19 restriction ease and phases lead to reopening.

“We’re hoping that this is the light at the tunnel that we’ve been looking for,” said Beard.

Graham said CVS staff will return in a few weeks to give staff and residents their second dose of the vaccine. She said vaccine supply and the number of doses will determine how soon the general population can get vaccinated.

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