Health Report: Fairbanks retirement community providing residents with COVID-19 vaccinations

Woman in a senior living center
Woman in a senior living center(Storyblocks)
Published: Jan. 5, 2021 at 4:22 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) -The Denali Center retirement community in Fairbanks is beginning the process of providing its residents with the COVID-19 vaccine.

The pandemic has had a substantial impact on the lives of elders living in retirement homes as they’ve transitioned into a state of lockdown. Tina Rein, the director of nursing at the Denali Center described the struggles of residents since the pandemic began.

“We were the first facility in the state to have a COVID case and that was back in March. A lot of our elders have not had any contact with family since that time. A lot of our elders have not been able to leave the building. Their world, while already small, became much smaller,” Said Rein.

While visitation of loved ones in Denali Center has been made possible via separation by plastic screen dividers, direct in-person visitation has not been viable for the safety of residents and staff. But as the COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Alaska, Denali Center is able to begin taking steps to improve the health and safety of its elders.

“The staff began to get vaccines a couple of weeks ago. We are really lucky to be a part of Foundation Health Partners, and they included us with that initial rollout. So many staff were able to get that first injection and many are coming up this week to get the second,” said Rein.

With the vaccines distributed among the staff, Denali Center will begin vaccinations for it’s resident elders starting Tuesday, January 5th.

“They’re really excited about it, their families are excited. I’ve seen that nationally they’re looking at about 50% to 60% of those folks are opting to be vaccinated, and we’re up close to 90% of people that want to have that vaccine,” said Rein.

According to Rein the likelihood of retirement communities re-opening and allowing in person visitation will hinge on the number of residents a given community is able to successfully vaccinate.

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