COMMACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)COVID-19 vaccinations rolled out to nursing homes across New York on Monday.

Doses were administered to staff and residents, but not everyone who is eligible for the vaccine is opting in, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.

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One small shot in the arm, one giant leap for nursing homes, which were hit so hard by the coronavirus.

Lynette Rutherford, chief nursing officer at Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Commack rolled up her sleeve.

Twice she was infected with COVID-19. She hopes nursing homes can soon reopen for family visits, thanks to the vaccine.

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“My hope is that with the vaccine, if enough people take it, that it will allow people to see there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Rutherford said.

The first residents were vaccinated, too.

Debbie Grosser, a former athlete, in rehab for years after a life-altering accident, was thrilled and grateful for the great minds that made the vaccine possible.

“I feel like I have come through through a tunnel that has been long and dark,” said Grosser. “It’s really feeling like the beginning of the end of the threat to this horrible virus that has taken so many lives.”

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Emotions were palpable at the Parker Jewish Institute, too, as the Pfizer vaccine is administered by Walgreens and CVS.

“This kind of eases my conscious and my brain and my anxiety,” said Roberta Kosiorowski, who works at Parker Jewish Institute.


The CDC recommended people 75 and older, along with emergency responders, teachers and grocery store workers be in the next priority group. But not everyone is clamoring for their turn.

Only two-thirds of Gurwin patients and one-third of staff volunteered for the vaccine, which is not mandatory.

“Many individuals have anxiety, concern about the vaccine and I believe we will have much improved rate once everyone sees everyone is fine,” said Stuart Almer, CEO of Gurwin Jewish Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

While COVID is still surging in the community, and staff and residents are turning down vaccinations — and continue to be vulnerable — visiting at nursing homes like this one will continue to be banned.

Nursing home staff and residents will be monitored for 72 hours to make sure there are no adverse reactions to the vaccine.

The second dose will be given in three weeks.

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Carolyn Gusoff