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Tucson assisted living center enrolls in CDC's COVID-19 vaccine program

Posted at 6:26 AM, Nov 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-20 08:26:13-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - Officials at a Tucson assisted living center say its enrolled in the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine program.

The Copper Canyon Assisted Living and Memory Care Center serves those with some level of cognitive impairment, according to Juan Martinez, the executive director for the center.

Martinez told kGUN9 that when the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up across the country and the state, officials quickly made the decision to stop in-person visits for residents.

“Family members and residents were impacted quite a bit not being able to see their loved ones on a daily basis," said Martinez.

Among those impacted is Alice Heart, who's lived at the center for the past three years.

She's had to communicate with her daughter, Barbara, over FaceTime, which she does at least twice a week.

“She has dementia but she can joke, she can talk about current things, pick out her outfit, she just doesn’t remember what she had for lunch but hey, neither do I," said Barbara Leightenheimer, Alice's daughter.

Martinez said in order to give residents normalcy as soon as possible it enrolled in the CDC's COVID-19 vaccine program.

The CDC partnered with CVS and Walgreens to provide free, on-site COVID-19 vaccines for those living and working in senior living communities.

“Once we’re told that we can actually do it, they’ll roll everything out, they’ll come to the community, do the vaccinations, we’ll go about our days and hopefully it’s a lot better than 95% effective," said Martinez.

He added this will happen as soon as a COVID-19 vaccine is approved and becomes available.

Leightenheimer said when she heard the news, she was ecstatic.

“I want mother protected, I want other around her protected. We don’t want to spread it, so as soon as I can get the vaccine I will," she said.

The assisted living center currently has 52 residents and 41 staff members, according to Martinez. All would be eligible to receive the vaccine, according to Martinez.