Bill Gamble was ready and willing to roll up his sleeve when he heard in December that vaccinations for COVID-19 were approved and on the way for older adults in care settings. But, due to vaccine supply and CDC recipient priorities, the vaccine wasn’t quite ready for him. After a few weeks of waiting and without hesitation, the 100-year-old was among the first residents to be scheduled at The Commons assisted living at EagleCrest, in Roseville, MN.
“I definitely want the vaccine. I’ve already put in my order,” Bill told reporter Susan Elizabeth Littlefield in a story that aired on WCCO News December 16, 2020. His anticipation and motivation were so great because, he said, “I’d like to visit my family more and have my great grandchildren come and visit me.” He also longed to go out for brunch at his favorite restaurant in the St. Paul Hotel.
With a PhD in agriculture and a long career as a professor and international consultant, Bill understands and trusts the science behind the Moderna vaccine. “It’s just one of those protections that science has been able to produce in a reasonably short time and I think it would be foolish not to take advantage of it,” he told Littlefield. Before he fully retired, Bill served as an international agricultural consultant traveling to four continents. His experience gave him a sense of proximity and global concern as the pandemic moved from country to country over the past 13 months.
From the outset, Campus Administrator Dani Salisbury’s motivation, like Bill’s, has been the residents’ families. “My hope is just to get the families back into the building,” she said to Littlefield. “They are such a critical piece to the overall well-being of the residents.”
Watch Bill and Dani on WCCO
News travels fast! The St. Paul Hotel saw Bill’s story on WCCO and made arrangements to bring him brunch. On December 23, Lance Kapps, Executive Chef, personally delivered and served him delicious eggs, bacon and a steak. “It really made my day to be out here today,” said Chef Kapps.
Watch Chef Kapps deliver brunch to Bill:
On January 14, the first vaccination clinic was held at EagleCrest. Bill and Dani received their shots right next to each other. In the short time it took to set up the dose and prep his arm, Bill had rolled up his sleeve and exchanged introductions with Jason, a pharmacy student at the University of Minnesota who gave Bill and Dani their vaccinations. When his shot was complete, Bill commented, “One of the easiest pokes I’ve ever had. Must have been a small needle.” When Dani asked him how he felt about the next shot, he said, “I can hardly wait to get it!”
Twenty-eight days later, on February 11, Bill received his second and final vaccination. “I’m glad that’s over,” he admitted. He’s also looking forward to what will begin again: moving freely about the community, enjoying dinner with his neighbors in the dining room and gathering for wine and cheese.
Most of all, he thinks about his family. “I want to visit with my grandkids,” he said. “We talk on Zoom,” he laughs, admitting he’d never heard about the video application before the pandemic. The day before his final shot, Bill and his 3 children, 5 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren gathered by Zoom to celebrate his 101st birthday. He’s already thinking about them being all together when he turns 102.
Roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated as soon as you can. Click here to find out more about how PHS is making the COVID-19 vaccines available to its residents and staff.