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Waters on 50th resident: ‘It feels real good to be vaccinated’

January 22, 2021

This community reporting project documents the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Arminta and Ron Miller, residents, The Waters on 50th senior living community

Ron: We’ve recovered from our Monday COVID shots. 

Arminta: It was nice because, in line for the shots, we got to see a lot of people from the third and fourth floors we hadn’t seen for a long time. 

You would have been impressed. We walked through a big archway with orange, gold and white balloons and went down to a table where they had a nurse sitting with all our medical papers. We took those papers to another room where there was a pharmacist from Thrifty White Pharmacy who deals with a lot of nursing homes. He talked to us about what we’re allergic to. I’m allergic to Compazine — I quit breathing if I get it — but he wasn’t concerned and gave me the shot. It wasn’t bad.

Then we had to sit in the room for 15 minutes, which is usually when someone has the most serious reactions. After that, we had to go to a different room for 30 minutes. 

In the second room, they had tangerines, healthy bars and ice water. And they gave us trivia questions. A lot of it was about music from the ’50s and ’60s, and I kind of aced it. They wanted to know the color of Pat Boone’s shoes, and they had a couple songs he was famous for that I knew because we had him on our jukebox at home. Everybody said, “Hey, she’s terrific, she should win a prize.” 

But while we were still in that room, my heart started fluttering a little bit and I began to feel lightheaded. They had me sit down and kept taking my blood pressure. I had to keep sticking my tongue out to make sure it wasn’t swollen. And they put that little thing on my finger. They just watched me for a while, and then I was able to go back to my room. The dizziness lasted all night, but I felt better by the morning. The next day my arm was sore, but it was just like when you get the flu shot — nothing more. 

Ron: I had no problems at all. 

Arminta: You know him. He’s the lean, mean fighting machine (in his mind, in his mind). 

Ron: It feels real good to be vaccinated.

Arminta: It does. I feel good that I’ve had it. But there are a lot of people who are afraid. I talked to a cousin the other day and she said, “I’m not going to get it, I’m not going to get it.” But I’ve definitely been feeling relief now. My whole attitude is better, maybe because I feel a little safer. 

Ron: The second wave of virus is coming, and you have to protect yourself and protect people around you. 

Arminta: At The Waters, 90-some people got vaccinated within three hours. We started at 9:30 and they were out of here by 1:30. I think only a few residents opted out, though there were more refusals among the staff and nurse’s aides.  It went so well considering how many people were involved. 

Ron: On Feb. 15 we’ll get the second shot. After that, they’ll be able to open things up again, a little bit at a time. 

Arminta: Our kids won’t be able to come into our apartments, but they will be able to make appointments to come into our community room. They’ll still have to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart, but being in the same room will be an improvement. 

We had been getting nose tests faithfully every Thursday morning. Anybody who didn’t get the vaccine still has to be tested weekly, but not us anymore, so maybe our nostrils will heal. 

There haven’t been any other COVID cases here — just me and the guy who got it but didn’t get very sick. It’s interesting because he also had a reaction to the shot. 

Ron: Wednesday was the greatest day in the world. They set up chairs to watch the inauguration, but we stayed in our room. 

Arminta: We spent all day glued to the TV. Wasn’t that darling poet [Amanda Gorman] just wonderful and so young? I am so impressed with her. And I laughed when Trump played “My Way” when his plane was taking off. It’s such an ego thing!

During that riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, I cried. It felt unbelievable that anything like that could happen. And I’m glad that the rioters are getting punished and some of it is going to be severe.

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