COVID vaccine: Vaccinations begin at nursing homes in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin

First vaccines administered in Chicago at long-term care facility in Englewood
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Vaccinations at nursing homes began Monday in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

Walgreens employees began the process of vaccinating residents and staff at long term care facilities at the Wentworth Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. Hospice chaplain Victor Parrot was first in line.

"I'm hoping I'm the first of many who come get the vaccine, we can get a handle on the pandemic and protect the community," Parrot said. "It's about the community, not just the individual."

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A vaccine card is given to each person who gets it. For residents who are not mobile, vaccines are given in their rooms. While it's not mandatory, most of the residents here are willing to take it. Among staff, it's a bit lower.

"I'm hoping once other people get vaccinated, more people will jump on and get it themselves," said Jake Pientok, an administrator at Wentworth Rehabilitation and Health Care.

Whether now or later, the arrival of a vaccine is a welcome relief, especially at facilities that have experienced COVID outbreaks.

"We've had a lot of staff sacrifices, a lot of resident sacrifices so we are really happy to have this as soon as possible," Pientok said.

Covenant Living of Northbrook was chosen to be one of the first.

"It's the gift we've been waiting for," executive director Hilde Sager said. "It's hope for our families and everyone that life can get back to normal, eventually."

And it will take time. Covenant is getting the Pfizer vaccine and Wentworth the Moderna vaccine. Both take two doses. Walgreens employees will return to both facilities in a few weeks for another round. By then, administrators hope residents or staff who may reluctant now will get on board.

As for when family members can visit their loved ones inside the buildings, long term healthcare facilities say they will wait for guidance from the state and city before easing up on restrictions.
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