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Brighter Tomorrows

Cedars receive first round of vaccinations

Long awaited hope finally came to the Cedars of Austin Wednesday, when the first round of vaccinations were given out to residents of the long-term care facility.

The day was turned into a celebration complete with signs and balloons as residents lined up for their shots. According to Ashley Farr Fjelstad, director of compliance for the Cedars, over 90 percent of the residents received shots in this first round.

Vaccines are given in two stages.

A sign celebrates residents getting their vaccines. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It’s been very long in coming,” Fjelstad said. “That’s why we made a celebration out of it. This is the first step to being able to reopen our communities. This is a forward path to do that.”

Even though Wednesday’s shots were optional to residents, the success of the first day is expected to carry over to the second round, where Cedars staff hope those who missed it the first time will come on board.

“The plan right now is to continue to encourage as many people to get vaccinated in the second round as possible,” Fjelstad said. “Some were hesitant to get it the first round, but will get their first shot in the second round.”

Long term care facilities across the state and nation have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another.

That includes outbreaks, but it also has substantially affected the residents and their social interactions.

While it’s unknown when the Cedars will be able to open their doors, this first step has been crucial in regard to the morale of residents.

“Residents join senior communities and buildings for a sense of community,” Fjelstad said. “Being active — that’s been taken away.”

A member of the Cedars of Austin staff waits with a resident who was in line to get a COVID-19 shot Wednesday. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“I think now the mood is lifted because there is hope and there is the vaccine and a path out,” she added.

Like most long term care facilities, the Cedars have had their own cases of COVID-19 as well, a mark of darker times.

“We’ve had cases, certainly,” Fjelstad said. “We are in a much better place now. We didn’t have any positive cases last week when we had our weekly testing.”

Residents aren’t the only ones who have struggled. The staff as well have had to fight through.

“For our staff, they’ve continued to show up every single day in full PPE and care for the residents,” Fjelstad said “They’ve been incredible. They’ve really stepped up.”

The second round of shots at the Cedars will be given on Feb. 17.