Students employees at senior living community eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

Maya Fridman and Caitlyn Lofland

When junior Kelsey Lundgaard found out she was eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, she was very excited, but later started feeling more nervous because the vaccine was still new and not many people had gotten it. She ultimately decided to get the vaccine so she would feel safer in public.

“I feel more comfortable walking around,”said Lundgaard in a video conference.“I’ve been going to in-person school, so knowing that I have the vaccine makes me a little less stressed about being around so many people.”

Lundgaard and some other high school students working at Covenant Living of Northbrook, a senior living community, received their first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 18 and their second dose on Feb. 8.

Dr. Kiran Joshi, senior medical officer and co-lead at Cook County Department of Public Health, said in an email correspondence that healthcare personnel are eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1a of Cook County’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. Healthcare personnel are defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as “paid and unpaid workers in healthcare settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials,” Joshi said.

Hilde Sager, executive director at Covenant Living, said in a phone interview that the workers are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine because they are considered healthcare personnel, as they work in a senior living community. 

Within the independent living section of Covenant Living, where the majority of high school student employees at Covenant Living work, over 50 percent of the employees received the vaccine, Sager said.

Junior Julia Knych, a server at Covenant Living, said in a video conference that she decided not to get the COVID-19 vaccine because of her personal health conditions. She would consider getting the vaccine in the future, but wants to make sure it is safe for her and do some more research about what is in it and what the risks are.

According to Sager, Covenant Living recently opened their dining room to 25 percent capacity and is planning to wait at least two weeks after all residents have received the second dose of the vaccine to further expand the dining room capacity. 

Senior Anne Stewart, whois also a server at Covenant Living, said in a video conference that she felt reassured after seeing her mom and coworkers get the vaccine, and decided to get it herself. She wanted to avoid having to get the vaccine later if it becomes required for college. 

Lundgaard got her second dose of the vaccine on Feb. 8. The following day she experienced chills, a headache and a mild fever. 

Now that Lundgaard has received both shots she said she will feel more comfortable going out in public. 

“I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to be able to get it. 

“I respect everybody’s decision.

“For me, I thought that since I had the opportunity, might as well just go for it because I’m not sure if there’s any other chance that I’ll be able to get it,” Lundgaard said.