SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Merrill Gardens just received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for its residents and staff members this week.
Roger Demchek is one of 270 residents who just received the vaccine at the senior living facility.
Another resident, Caroline Giufurta had no trouble explaining why she was excited to get vaccinated.
"Because I’m on my way to being free, ha ha ha," exclaimed Giufurta.
The residents say the vaccine is very welcome after nearly a year of sticking together throughout the pandemic, even during the most difficult times.
"When my husband passed away this was my community and I love it here and I love the people here," said resident Vicki Ahlemann.
"We have a couple cases right now. We put in a tremendous amount efforts to keep our residents and staff members and team members safe. But it is a challenge," said General Manager Audie Sherberg of Merrill Gardens.
Now that the first vaccine dose has been given, residents are looking forward to the second round of doses in the beginning of February.
"I’m looking forward to the second one because I feel like that’s the only way that we’re going to be able to take care of ourselves and our other humankind," said Ahlemann.
So far, 81 percent of the congregate facility has received the vaccine.
"My goal, is hoping to get 85 percent ovaccinated with the whole complex and we are extremely happy the way it started out so far," said Sherberg.