Independent living residents of Palmyra’s Londonderry Village had the opportunity to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

The vaccine was administered Jan. 27 and 28 from the campus’ on-site pharmacy, Hershey Long-term Care Pharmacy. During the two-day clinic, the vaccine was administered to 377 independent living residents; about 75% of the campus’ independent living population.

Jeff Shireman, Londonderry Village president, said staff and residents in the retirement community’s personal care and skilled nursing care were offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through CVS earlier in the month. Over 200 healthcare residents and staff members received the first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine Jan. 3 and Jan. 24, respectively. Several residents who are veterans had received the vaccine through the Lebanon VA Medical Center. He said independent living residents had been asking about an onsite vaccine clinic for several weeks.

“We have had an admirable track record of resisting the damages spread by COVID-19 during the pandemic, but receiving the vaccines is a necessary first step in moving the community back to a semblance of normality in 2021,” he said.

When the state Department of Health’s guidelines expanded to include anyone over age 65, Shireman said the retirement community could then offer a vaccine to all residents; the average age of residents when they first come here is 78 to 80. “We worked with Hershey Pharmacy to coordinate the onsite clinic for our independent living residents,” he said, “Residents were appreciative of the fact that they could receive the vaccine here on campus and didn’t have to drive anywhere.”

Chuck Kray, a pharmacist and co-owner of Hershey Pharmacy, said the pharmacy has had an on-site pharmacy at the retirement community for about 20 years. “We’re trying to get vaccines in arms as quickly as possible,” he explained.

During the two-day clinic, members of the Londonderry Village and Hershey Pharmacy staff worked in tandem to run an efficient clinic where, on average, fifteen residents were vaccinated every fifteen minutes. Kray said each day three pharmacists and an intern got vaccines in arms, while three to five additional pharmacy staff members handled paperwork. After receiving the vaccine, residents were led to a different area where they were monitored for any potential issues from the inoculation. “The trick is to keep the flow going, get vaccines in arms and to keep people safe {encourage social distancing} while doing so,” he said.

“We are surrounded by a beautiful appreciative Londonderry Village family. I could not have been happier for the large turnout receiving the vaccine. We are looking out for each other to remain safe during this unprecedented time in all our lives. This is a community that loves, cares and actively lives life well,” said Mary Lee Harpel, Londonderry Village resident services director and organizer of the clinic.

Kray anticipates that retirement community residents will also receive the second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine onsite as well. He said Hershey Pharmacy is beginning to scale up its operations to provide vaccines. “We just don’t have the vaccine,” he said.

Kray explained that when the state Department of Health expanded phase 1A of its vaccination plan to include anyone over age 65 and anyone ages 16 to 64 with serious medical conditions that make them more at risk for severe illness, it encompassed an additional 4.2 million people. But he said the state is receiving about 150,000 vaccines per week. “Perhaps the supply will increase as vaccines from other pharmaceutical companies are approved and rolled out,” he said.

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