PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Long-term care facilities in Oregon began giving COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday, a major step in protecting the most at-risk and most vulnerable.

Staff at Rose Villa in southeast Portland say getting the vaccine doesn't mean everything will change overnight, but they're hopeful it can help with the process of eventually getting back to normal.

"We’re all a little bit of nervous, but it’s super exciting for us because this is kind of the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve all been waiting for," said Kristina Delisle, who works at Rose Villa.

"This is a very special special day. It’s been a very trying year," John Eaglin, who works at Rose Villa, said.

Delisle and Eaglin both got their COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday.

It has been a year like no other where staff have had to be extra careful, and residents haven't been able to see loved ones as often as they normally would.

Long-Term Care Center Vaccine

(Courtesy: Consonus Pharmacy)

Rose Villa's CEO Vassar Byrd says the majority of its 200 staff will be getting the vaccine. Thirty-five residents in the nursing home also received the vaccine Monday.

"Taking the vaccine means that they're going to be able to be closer to their family members sooner," Byrd said. "And everyone missing people, you know, the connection is so important especially when you're older and you might have a health condition."

At another long-term care facility in the Portland metro area, Oregon-based Consonus Pharmacy gave vaccinations to residents and staff, including Pearl Harbor veteran Ed Johann.

"I think the most exciting part is I think the vaccine is the first step in reconnecting our families with the residents," said Phil Fogg Jr., President and CEO of Marquis Companies.

Staff at Rose Villa recognize getting the vaccine isn't an immediate fix.

"Unfortunately it doesn’t mean that after today we can take everything off, but what it does mean is it’s step toward getting back to some type of normal," Eaglin said. "If we can get to a point to where a majority of our community can be vaccinated, we can get to that you know normal sooner rather than later."

Byrd told FOX 12 that she anticipates staff will be wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) at least through the spring and summer as the state continues different waves of vaccinations.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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