Vaccinations underway at New York nursing homes

Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack on Monday was one of the first nursing homes to receive a supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses to vaccinate the most vulnerable.

Chief nursing officer Lynette Rutherford was first in line. After contracting COVID-19 twice, she couldn't be more relieved to get a vaccine, she said.

"I wanted to just do it because I think it'll make a difference," Rutherford said. "My hope is that with this vaccine if enough people take it it will allow people to see there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

New York's coronavirus death toll in nursing homes is among the highest in the nation.

Resident Debbie Grosser is counting down the days until she can see her family and friends again. The 61-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury and relies on the nursing facility for additional care.

"I haven't seen my family in 10 months, friends longer than a year," she said. "It's been horrible. I had absolutely no fear. It didn't hurt, just a tiny pinch like any other vaccine."

So far at Gurwin's Nursing and Rehab Facility, one-third of the staff and two-thirds of its residents consented and were to be vaccinated on Monday. The second round will follow in about three weeks.

"It's a process not just for us but for every facility and nation and we're hoping for improved compliance over time," Gurwin CEO Stuart Almer said.

Hebrew Home in the Riverdale section of the Bronx also received a shipment of vaccinations.

While the vaccination isn't mandatory in nursing homes it is being recommended as a step forward in protecting those most at risk and reuniting families with loved ones.

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