Vaccine time for SHA residents
Overwhelmingly, they are grateful.
The more than 400 Springfield Housing Authority who received COVID-19 Moderna vaccines recently are grateful that they are now almost certainly protected from the deadly pandemic that has taken so many lives worldwide.
And they can see the light at the end of the dark tunnel that has brought to many home schooling, remote working, and social isolation for the past year. That, and face masks and frequent handwashing as precautions against spreading and receiving the virus that has a much higher death rate than the flu.
Thanks to a priority set by Gov. Charlie Baker, most public housing residents are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
And thanks to a partnership among SHA, the state of Massachusetts, the City of Springfield Department of Health and Human Services and American Medical Response of Springfield, 407 residents were able to get their first doses at three locations set aside just for them.
SHA Executive Director Denise R. Jordan said the vaccine clinics would not have been possible but for the collaborative effort by all four entities. More residents will be vaccinated as supplies are available, she added.
“We’re thrilled that we are able to help our residents protect themselves against the COVID-19 virus,” Jordan said. “We targeted especially our residents who are elderly and who have physical limitations, with locations close to where they live to help eliminate transportation as a hindrance to getting the vaccine.”
Vaccine clinics were held at the Edward P. Boland Elementary School, and Baystate Health clinics in Mason Square and Brightwood. Residents were contacted directly by SHA district managers and staff and in many cases, applications were made with assistance from them as well.
All residents vaccinated at the clinics will receive their second shots in a few weeks.
At Boland, residents received their shots in a section of the gymnasium, sitting in another area for up to a half hour under observation of medical and SHA staff. The event went smoothly.
Jennie Lane Apartments resident Carol Snyder was among the first to get her vaccine, smiling brightly afterwards.
“I’m so relieved I was able to get this appointment,” Snyder said. “I had called my doctor and I knew how difficult it was to get one. When they called me from housing I said yes right away. I feel now that I will not get sick from this.”
She was in good company.
Great friends Jose Santiago, who lives at Saab Court Apartments, and Donna Graves, who lives at Gentile Apartments, came together.
“They called me and of course I said yes,” Santiato said. “I don’t want to get Covid. I know this will help.”
His friend Graves added, “This really takes a load of your mind.”
Santia Rivera of Jennie Lane Apartments said she was both surprised and happy to get the call with the offer of a vaccine appointment. She was also able to get a ride from a neighbor.
“I feel very lucky,” Rivera said. “I was trying to get an appointment at the Eastfield Mall but that was very hard to get into, and I had no way to get there.”
Army Veteran Kenneth LaMontagne of Carpe Diem Apartments said he was struggling to get an appointment before getting a call from an SHA staffer. Once he gets both shots and waits the two weeks after that to be fully protected, the 72-year-old is looking forward to one thing.
“I’ll get to see my mother again. She’s 95, and it’s been a very long time,” he said.
Emma Torres, a resident of Jennie Lane Apartments, said getting her first vaccine left her feeling one way.
“I’m so happy. This is for my health,” said Torres, who got a ride from a good neighbor.
Ivette Fernandez of Robinson Gardens Apartment had a number of Covid cases in her own family, and was glad to have the opportunity to protect herself from illness.
“I don’t want to be sick. I want my family to be safe,” she said.
For SHA and the city of Springfield, getting vaccines to residents has been a priority as they are living in congregate settings where viruses are generally more likely to spread. For that reason, they have also been prioritized by the state.
City Health and Human Services Director Helen Caulton-Harris said the vaccine event was smoothly run and very effective.
“This is just great,” she said. “The wonderful thing about SHA is that you all are doing this to help out yourselves and each other.”
Indeed, some two dozen SHA employees volunteered to spend a day helping residents get their vaccines. In the districts, property manages and other staffers called residents or went door-to-door, often helping the elderly complete the online registration process and then helping to organize transportation where necessary.
“We’re happy to help,” said District Property Manager Sandra West.
“We want what’s best for our residents and for our city.”
Copyright © 2013-2020 Springfield Housing Authority. All Rights Reserved.