Spirits lifting in elderly care centers following vaccine distributions


After a year tainted with disease, death and misfortune, many are turning to 2021 with hopes of a brighter future. Indeed, 2021 offers two shots in the arm: a vaccine. As various vaccines are distributed across the nation, senior Alexy Downer has had the first-hand experience of witnessing the vaccine in action. Downer works at Palo Alto’s Webster House, an elderly assisted living facility. There, she helps serve food, pre- pare meals, bag groceries and distributes snacks to residents. She has also observed the sense of security the vaccine brings to seniors. “Getting the vaccine sooner than the general public has been a big relief, and most of the residents are very relieved,” Downer said.

Aside from personal safety, the vaccine also provides residents with hope. Its distribution lifted some of the facility’s health regulations and allowed for loved ones to visit, albeit socially distanced. “Being able
to see family and friends through a screen has really raised their spirits,” Downer said. “Also, knowing that soon they may be allowed to leave this facility and spend time with their family is really heartwarming for them.”

As an essential care worker, Downer, along with her coworkers, were offered primary access to the vaccine. “The first time I was given the opportunity to get a vaccine, I was scared and wanted to wait,” Downer said. “The first person who had gotten the vaccine in California had only had it two days before. But I did my research and afterwards, felt more confident getting the vaccine.”

Although she was apprehensive initially, Downer feels grateful for the opportunity and experience. “I feel safer coming home to my dad and mom, who are both not vaccinated and are at higher risk,” Downer said. For now, Downer remains confident that the spirits in Webster House will remain high. “Everyone is in full support of everyone,” Downer said. “We truly are always there for one another and have created really tight bonds. We see each other each week, no matter how bad the pandemic is, and having support from my coworkers and the residents has made working through COVID better and easier.”