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COVID-19 Vaccine Gives Seniors Hope for Return to Normal

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine means Utah seniors are one step closer to being protected.

However, doctors have said even after getting the vaccine, it’s still important for people 65 and older to take all the recommended precautions.

For the ladies at The Ridge Foothill, an assisted living center in Salt Lake City, it was a glimpse of normal life.

They sat in front of mirrors while staff did their hair and makeup for picture day, which they lovingly call “Grandma Glamour Shots.” “It made me feel good inside, it made me feel pretty,” said resident Wendy Moench, 69.

Helen Stringham, 85, also a resident at the Ridge Foothill, said, “(It) makes me feel young. I was feeling very old and depressed during the ‘dark times’, is what I call them.”

Friends Stringham and Moench said things are a little brighter after the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Residents recently got the first dose and will soon get the booster. Dr. Mark Supiano, geriatrician, University of Utah Health reminded the vaccine’s efficacy was tested on two doses, not one.

He cautioned against thinking you’re protected after getting the first dose. “There may be some antibodies that are produced, but there’s no way of knowing if it’s protective enough so it’s really not a good idea to have any false sense of security after that initial dose,” Supiano said.

Supiano recommended still taking all the precautions after the first dose of the vaccine, and after the booster. “The vaccine is 95% effective, it’s not 100%,” Supiano said. “The risk to this population is extraordinarily high.”

In Utah, 11.4% of the population is 65 and older, according to Utah Census Data.

That age group accounts for 77% of the deaths from COVID-19, according to the Utah Department of Health.

“We get it for ourselves, but we get it for everybody too,” Stringham said.

It’s advice AARP State Director Alan Ormsby is giving his 79-year-old mother, Barbara Ormsby. “Get in line, do what you need to do to get that vaccine,” said Ormsby, who also recommended that seniors first check with their doctors to make sure they’re healthy enough to get the vaccine.

As they posed for staff to take their photos, Stringham and Moench said these steps are making them hopeful. “It made me feel like, geez, there’s a world out there now,” Moench said. “I can go back to that world soon.”

Stringham said, “I think maybe by summer, I’ll be able to hug my little great-grandson.”

Doctors don’t yet know if a vaccinated person can still transmit the virus to someone else, so even after the second dose, it’s best to follow all the same safety guidelines to protect others.

Visit the Utah coronavirus website by clicking here, and register with your local health department.

If you run into problems getting an appointment, call the Utah Department of Health Helpline at 385-468-4100.

Coronavirus Resources

Have you or a family member been affected by coronavirus issues in Utah? KSL wants to hear from you. Contact KSL by emailing social@ksl.com.

What is COVID-19? Here’s What You Need To Know To Stay Healthy

The latest coronavirus stories from KSL can be found here.

Your Life Your Health: How parents can prepare their home, children against coronavirus.

How do I prevent it?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water is not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

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