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Weymouth nursing home holdout accepts vaccine 'to help protect the others'
The Patriot Ledger - 2/24/2021
WEYMOUTH — Joyce Scherban waited until the very last day to come around.
When head nurse Marcia Astuto came into her room at the Dwyer Home and said Tuesday was her last chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine at the site's third and final clinic, Scherban surprised her and said, "I'm finally ready."
And when Scherban accepted the shot in her right arm, it meant that all but one of the 48 residents of the skilled nursing facility is now vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"I'm a very anti-medicine person," she said. "My thinking was 'No way.' But they take the shot to protect us and I have to take the shot of protect the people who take care of me."
Some members of the staff have also refused the shot, but after steady efforts by the nursing team, 88 percent of staff have been immunized. Of 103 employees, 13 declined the COVID vaccine despite a series of efforts including an informational meeting with a physician to discuss the risks and benefits.
"Our administrator Ken Strong gave the employees gift cards to come to the meeting and it was all very pleasant with lots of information," Astuto said. "People asked questions, they said they learned a lot, but not one person changed their mind."
Concerns about the vaccine have included the speed with which it was developed, unknown long-term effects and uncertainty about any effects on pregnancy.
Scherban received the Pfizer vaccine. Because the clinics have ended now, she will have to go out in 21 days to get the second and final shot through arrangements with Walgreens and the state health department.
More: Inside a nursing home's COVID-19 vaccine clinic with hope, relief and a few doubts
"I'm always been anti-medicine," she explained about her initial refusal nearly seven weeks ago. Paralyzed from the waist down, she keeps tight control over her health care and gave a firm "no" when first approached about the shot.
But as she watched others get the shots and saw they didn't get sick, and as she followed television coverage, she thought about the care she received and the staff who are like family.
"I decided my job is to protect the people who take care of me and the other residents," Scherban said.
Astuto said a higher percentage of the residents than staff have accepted the vaccine as the patient base has changed. At nursing homes across the state and country, from 40 to 80 percent of staff have generally taken the shot.
None of the 13 non-vaccinated staff members at Dwyer House wanted to be interviewed about their reasons for declining.
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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Weymouth nursing home holdout accepts vaccine 'to help protect the others'
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