‘A long time coming’: Friendship Retirement Community administers COVID-19 vaccine to residents, staff

Around 200 people at Friendship South receive vaccine

Residents and staff at the Friendship Retirement Community in Roanoke County received the COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 3, 2021. (WSLS 10)

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – The COVID-19 vaccine is starting to show up at long-term care facilities; residents and staff at a Roanoke County retirement community got their chance to take the shot on Sunday.

Around 200 people at the Friendship South retirement community were vaccinated throughout the day, including Friendship CEO Joe Hoff.

“The vaccine is a great thing for us, and if people see us leading the way taking this, hopefully, others will get on board,” Hoff said.

The COVID-19 vaccine is not mandatory at Friendship, but Hoff told 10 News 90% of residents and 80% of staff members chose to get vaccinated.

“We’ve got a fear of COVID, so the residents want to take advantage of it,” Hoff said. “It’s been a long time coming.”

The vaccinations may eventually open the door for visitors like Kathleen Nordstrom to visit loved ones in person again.

“I remember the last time we could see them: March 13, at 3:30 PM,” said Nordstrom, whose mother, Jean Kowalski is a resident at Friendship South.

Kowalski took the vaccine, and Nordstrom said she will do the same whenever it is available for her.

“I had to explain to her and say, ‘Mom, this gets me on the other side of the window,’” Nordstrom said. “Whatever I need to do, I will be right there to get it. If it gets me closer to seeing her, that’s all I need.”