MOORHEAD — Residents and staff of a south-side nursing home are starting to receive their first vaccinations against the coronavirus.

Eventide on Eighth in Moorhead announced Monday, Dec. 28, that vaccinations had begun. Minnesota and other states across the country are rolling them out in long-term care centers, with North Dakota expected to begin doing so this week.

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Emily Kollar, executive director of Moorhead Eventide Senior Living Communities, said the 400 doses of Moderna vaccine will cover all residents and staff of its Care Center, or skilled nursing area of the campus.

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Due to advanced age and underlying health conditions, residents of the Care Center are among those at highest risk for COVID-19. They'll receive a second dose in 28 days.

"It’s absolutely indescribable," Kollar said, adding, "The hallways are kind of buzzing with energy this morning."

Across the country, the virus has taken a devastating toll on nursing home residents. In Minnesota, 3,339 residents of long-term care or assisted living facilities had died with COVID-19, roughly 65% of the state's pandemic deaths as of Monday, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The vaccine will be available to people in assisted living facilities at a later date.

Kollar said most Eventide residents and their families are consenting to receive the vaccine.

People not eligible for the vaccine are those who received the monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab, known as a "bam infusion." The investigational treatment was approved for emergency use authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in early November for people at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization.

Director of Nursing Amy Vogt at Eventide on Eighth in Moorhead received the COVID-19 vaccination on Monday, Dec. 28. Approximately 400 residents and staff members in the facility's Care Center are among the first in long term care in Minnesota to get the vaccine. WDAY photo
Director of Nursing Amy Vogt at Eventide on Eighth in Moorhead received the COVID-19 vaccination on Monday, Dec. 28. Approximately 400 residents and staff members in the facility's Care Center are among the first in long term care in Minnesota to get the vaccine. WDAY photo

Members of Eventide's nursing leadership staff were going room to room to administer the vaccine Monday, with other staff remaining to keep an eye out for possible side effects.

Kollar hopes widespread vaccination will lead to families being able to visit again, residents being able to dine together and do group activities again, and for staff not to have to wear a gown, gloves, mask and face shield throughout their shift.

"We’re excited to see the other side of this," she said.