‘I just want a hug’: Nursing home residents excited for vaccine to reach Georgia

‘I just want a hug’: Nursing home residents excited for vaccine to reach Georgia

GEORGIA — Governor Kemp announced the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will be here in a week or 10 days.

Residents in long term health facilities will be the first to receive the vaccine.

Edna Taylor, 93, lives at Chelsey Park in Dahlonega and she is anticipating getting the vaccine so she can get back to spending time with her four children.

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“She’s very social,” her daughter Sally Hoynacki said. “She used to play cards and games and all kinds of stuff like that.”

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A surge in COVID-19 cases across the state makes this difficult since nursing homes and assisted care facilities are on lockdown, putting an end to all in-person visits.

Currently, Hoynacki and her mom can only speak through a glass window with no touching involved.

“You just think ‘Am I ever going to get to hug her again?’ and that’s basically what she said to me the last time I saw her is ‘I just want a hug,’” Hoynacki said. “We’ve definitely noticed some cognitive decline during all of this, and I really think it’s due to lack of socialization.”

Hoynacki called this a nightmare. With the governor’s announcement, the nightmare could be coming to an end. A vaccine is on the way and Taylor would be among the first to receive it.

“If that’s the magic bullet, then she’s all about it. She would be jumping on that wagon as soon as it gets here,” Hoynacki said.

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Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke with Donna Moore, the chief operating officer at Isakson Living, which owns and operates Park Springs in Stone Mountain. They’ve gone above and beyond to protect their staff and residents from COVID-19. Right now, they are getting ready to administer the vaccines to their community.

“The fact that the CDC recommended a few weeks ago and then our CDC director approved the recommendation to put seniors and health care workers at the front of the line made me really, really made me happy,” Moore said. “I’m very excited. The vaccines seem very, very promising.”

The Georgia Health Care Association, which has represented long term care providers in the state for more than 60 years, says there will not be mandates and the centers will not have mandates for their employees and their residents.

How will COVID-19 vaccines be distributed in Georgia within coming weeks?