Vaccine

Providence Southwest Pharmacy Senior Manager Danny Veenhouwer loads the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine into an ultra-cold freezer on loan from Swedish.

Wearing a red jacket and a string of blinking Christmas lights as a necklace, 92-year-old LaVaughn "Lovie" Therriault counted "one, two" but didn't make it to three before a nurse injected her with the coronavirus vaccine.

"By Jove, you did do it," she marveled to nurse Flor Craig as Craig stuck a bandage on her arm. Then she pumped her fist into the air.

On Monday, Therriault was among the first long-term care residents in Washington to receive the vaccine that officials hope to have soon in all of the state's 4,000 nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, adult family homes and other care sites.

Therriault lives at the Parkshore retirement community in Seattle's Madison Park, where residents and staff were given the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine delivered by Consonus Pharmacy. Parkshore offers several levels of care at its site, but only residents who live in the assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care floors were eligible to receive the dose. The facility provided The Seattle Times with video of Therriault receiving the vaccine because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions.

The vaccine arrival felt like "the beginning of the end" of the pandemic for the community, Parkshore Executive Director Annika DiNovi said Tuesday in an interview.

"It was a historic day," she said. "We are very excited for this to allow our residents to get back to a sense of normalcy."

About 1,000 doses of the state's initial shipment of the Pfizer vaccine have been allocated to long-term care facilities through Consonus. The larger bulk of the state's facilities will receive vaccines starting Dec. 28 through a federal program with CVS and Walgreens.

Along with health care workers, long-term care facility residents and staff are being prioritized for the vaccines as COVID-19 continues to devastate sites across the state. As of Tuesday, 553 of the state's facilities have at least one active COVID-19 infection, according to the state Department of Social and Health Services.

Since the start of the pandemic, 1,506 facilities in Washington have reported at least one case of the virus that has proven especially deadly in those environments. In total, 11,883 cases, including 1,581 deaths, have been associated with long-term care facilities, accounting for just 6% of the state's cases but 53% of total deaths.

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