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'A new beginning': Elderly Issaquah residents get COVID-19 vaccine

Residents and staff at assisted living facilities are being vaccinated for coronavirus under Washington state's Phase 1A vaccine rollout.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — Ten months after lockdowns began due to COVID-19, elderly patients in assisted living facilities are finally receiving the first dose of the vaccine. 

The vaccine is the key to allowing high-risk residents the freedom of leaving the facility again after such a long period of isolation.

At Bellewood Assisted Living in Issaquah, elderly residents were all smiles on such a momentous day.

"They survived," said David Reeve, CEO of Bellewood. "It feels like a new beginning. It's a really good day."

Bellewood is working with Snoqualmie Hospital to help inoculate the residents who all qualify for the vaccine under Phase 1A of the state's vaccination plan. Since the pandemic began, Reeve credits frequent testing of residents and staff with having zero cases at all three of the company's facilities. 

Among those receiving the vaccine in Issaquah was Leonard Seeley, 101. The U.S. Navy veteran was born into the flu pandemic of 1918-1919.

"To have Leonard live the end of his life with more freedom is monumental," said one nurse at his side.

Dozens of staff members at the facility are also being vaccinated. Reeve hopes to soon have vaccines available for staff members under age 18 who don't yet qualify for the Moderna vaccine.

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