ASHLAND -- Approximately 90 percent of residents and 50 percent of the staff at LSS The Good Shepherd Nursing and Rehabilitation received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Monday.
The vaccine was delivered by 9 a.m. to Ashland County's largest nursing home, prompting vaccinations to begin at 9:30 a.m. and continue through 1 p.m.
"For a lot of us, we felt a tremendous sense of relief. We’ve been through an outbreak here, and we don’t ever want to see that here again," said director of nursing Sarah Kerr.
She was the first person at the facility to receive the vaccine.
"Plus, it’s been such a hard eight, nine months for residents. We wear masks and shields with them, and they can’t have normal visits with loved ones, Kerr continued.
Visitations are restricted at local nursing homes so long as Ashland County remains "red" in the state's Public Health Advisory System. Ashland County turned "red" on Nov. 5 and has remained at that level ever since.
Over the weekend, resident Jim Jacque met his granddaughter via a window visit. The 68-year-old Nankin man was among the first on his floor to receive the vaccine Monday.
"I just wish it had been a month or so ago so I could have held my little granddaughter," he said.
Jacque learned of the opportunity to receive the vaccine last week. He asked about potential side effects, but quickly decided he wanted to receive it. Though highly recommended, the vaccine is optional for residents and staff.
"The shot was nothing. It was a very tiny needle they used," Jacque said. "She was done, and I didn’t even hardly feel it. One quarter of what a bee sting would be what it was -- at the most."
Jacque explained that his nephew became sick with COVID-19 earlier this year. Though the young man only experienced mild side effects, it took more than a month for his sense of smell to return, he recalled.
Jacque, who has worked in medical research, recognized that the vaccine was developed quickly, but this doesn't cause concern for him. He is from Massachusetts and lived in New York before moving to Ashland about 13 years ago. He worked for a decade at WIL Research, now Charles River Laboratories.
He and the others who received the first dose today will receive their second dose of the vaccine in a few weeks. Residents and staff who did not get vaccinated in the first round will have opportunities again in January and February.
"A group was recently positive for COVID, and I think what you’ll see is they might hop in during the next round," Kerr said.
Absolute Pharmacy of Canton distributed the vaccine.
"We look forward to moving towards normalcy and having visits again, knowing it will be safer to have those things happening again," Kerr said.