By Courtney Luciana
Three hundred fifty staff members at The Towers senior assisted-living home received their Covid-19 vaccine shots on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Three hundred residents were delivered doses directly in their rooms a day earlier by Walgreens pharmacists and Tower Lane employees.
Out of 320 residents, roughly 20 had opted out of the vaccine.
“Mostly everyone said, ‘Please come in! We’ve been waiting.’ We had two of the pharmacists gently encourage everyone to get the vaccination to stay safe and protect the community,” Towers’ CEO Gus Keach-Longo said.
Isidor “Izzy” Juda, a 99-year-old Holocaust survivor, was one of the residents who received their vaccine on Tuesday, Jan. 12.
“Taking the vaccine didn’t make me nervous. I’ve been through a lot more than that,” Juda said. “What worries me more than anything else is people who are selfish and don’t follow the orders. Why do you have to be selfish and expose yourself, and expose others?”
Sixty percent of residents and staff at The Towers are Jewish. Rabbi Benjamin Scolnic from Temple Beth Sholom in Hamden opened up the routine of vaccinations throughout Tower One with the Jewish prayer, Shehecheyanu, which marks special occasions.
“This is a prayer for life. If there’s anything that’s maintaining life it’s what we’re doing here today. Judaism above everything else believes that life is paramount,” Scolnic said. “Doing this today is almost like following a commandment. You should do everything that you can to sustain your life.”
As Scolnic waited in line for his vaccine, he noted that as a rabbi he is called to go to death beds. “This vaccine will allow me to do my job without fear of getting infected or giving the virus to my family,” he said.
Towers Board Chair Cindy Leffell said the isolation has been difficult for the elderly throughout the pandemic.
“As soon as we can open up again a little bit, residents can come down from their apartments in small groups,” Leffell said.
According to Keach-Longo said that the plan is to allow residents to gradually start group activities again.
“My hope is that around the beginning of May, we might have opened a cafe with just a couple of tables and carefully, slowly grow that again so that people can spend time together. It’s so important here as a community,” Keach-Longo said. “Testing and vaccinations are making all of the difference in the world.”
This is an excerpt of a story published in New Haven Independent (newhavenindependent.com) and reprinted with permission.
Main Photo: Towers resident Izzy Juda, 99, gives a thumbs up as he receives the vaccine.