Administering COVID-19 vaccinations at Westminster Place Photo by Jacqui Lowe submitted by Presbyterian Homes

About 480 skilled nursing and memory care residents, rehabilitation patients, and associated staff at Presbyterian Homes Westminster Place in Evanston received the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 6. 

Assisted living and independent living residents were not included in this first round as supply of the vaccine remains limited and questions persist about in which phase, 1a or 1b, independent living residents of long-term care facilities fall.

Robert Werdan, Presbyterian Homes Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, stated that these residents will be vaccinated as soon as supply and eligibility issues are resolved. 

Some staff chose not to receive the vaccine for religious or ideological reasons or concern about negative health reactions based on previous inoculation experience. Mr. Werdan estimated about 10% to 15% of eligible staff were not inoculated either because of choice or because they were unavailable yesterday.

Vaccinations began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 5 p.m.  Twenty-two Walgreen pharmacists, nurses and clinicians inoculated patients and staff. Three vaccination stations on the property were set-up for staff; residents were vaccinated in their rooms. Staff and residents receiving the vaccine were monitored for 15 to 30 minutes after inoculation. There were no adverse health effects reported.

Mr. Werdan said the vaccination process is much more complicated and time-consuming than one would think.  “Much has been written about the ultra-cold storage requirement and pipeline, but the last mile logistics and the process of educating and documenting and gaining approval from patients and their families is equally complex,” he explained.

The vaccination effort was coordinated by Westminster Place Presbyterian Homes health-care administrator Bill Casper and his staff.

A second shot will be administered January 27.