South Florida assisted living residents ready for COVID-19 vaccine

HIALEAH, Fla. – Hialeah City Council President Jesus Tundidor and the fire department made the rounds to the city’s assisted living facilities Wednesday, passing out masks and hand sanitizer.

They developed a task force since Hialeah has the highest concentration of those facilities in the state, Tundidor says.

Now, Gov. Ron DeSantis is saying that within weeks, those who live and work in these assisted living facilities could be given the first round of a COVID-19 vaccine, once approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“We could have every resident at every nursing home and long-term care facility vaccinated by the end of December,” DeSantis said.

Michele Perez, who owns the Villa Rosa I assisted living facility, says the state has already reached out about the distribution of the vaccine, and the majority of her residents (about 80%) want it.

“The provider of choice, CVS or Walgreens, will come to the facility with the doses of vaccine and will be administering it and providing it right here at each facility,” Perez said. “[The residents] want to go to the corner store. They want to go visit family they want to back to their normal lives. It’s affecting their mental health.”

As health officials consider authorizing emergency use of a vaccine, 61% of people say they are willing to get vaccinated if a shot is approved, according to a Quinnipiac Univesity national poll released Wednesday. Thirty-three percent say they don’t think they would be willing.

In Florida, more than 7,500 nursing home residents and staff have died from COVID-19, almost 39% of the deaths in the state from the virus.

“A lot of them are ready and willing to get [the vaccine],” Perez said of her residents. “They feel like they’re going to be safer that way and that their lives can go back to normal.”

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