Good Samaritan Society long-term care workers receive COVID-19 vaccine

Good Samaritan Society long-term care workers receive COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Dec. 15, 2020 at 7:32 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Sanford Health joined health systems around the country Tuesday administering its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine in Sioux Falls. Long-term care workers from Good Samaritan Society were among those vaccinated.

The weeks have been long and tough for these frontline workers. And while it may just be a small shot, those who received it say they look forward to the big impact it will make.

“I’m really hoping to set precedent for a lot of our staff and just community in general, on you know let’s be excited about this,” said Caitlyn Nickell, Assistant Director of Nursing at Good Samaritan Society Sioux Falls Center.

Sanford Health is one of the first locations in the country to vaccinate long-term care workers. Alecia O’Neill and Caitlyn Nickell were two of the first participants.

“It’s really an exciting day and really a turning point I think in this fight against COVID-19,” said O’Neill.

Unfortunately, nursing homes have been hit hard during the pandemic.

“The death rate in nursing homes is in the 1 in 5 range. So when we see a vaccine like this, we also see the opportunity to make our residents more safe,” said Dr. Greg Johnson, Chief Medical Officer for the Good Samaritan Society.

Many residents have been under quarantine since March.

“It’s been a very long nine months and you know we have become their families, but we could only do so much. We’re not their kids, we’re not their grandchildren, but you know they’ve relied on us to be that support and those social interactions and everything. So it’s very important for people to get vaccinated,” said Nickell.

While vaccinations bring hope, these long term care workers say it’s important for people to not let their guard down.

“This is just one step towards us getting to the end of this long journey of this pandemic, but we need to keep masking, we need to keep social distancing, washing our hands,” said O’Neil.

And they can’t wait until the day that their residents can once again hug their loved ones.

In Sioux Falls, frontline staff at three Good Samaritan Society locations and two nursing homes will get the shots. And in the next few weeks, long-term care pharmacies like CBS and Walgreens will be vaccinating residents who choose to get it.

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