Second dose of vaccine means hugs can’t be far away, grandmothers agree


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — They were war veterans, grandparents, retired teachers, even football coaches — all over 65, many well past 65, and they had one thing in common. They were ready for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and they were happy to have it.

We hear a lot about people who do not intend to get the vaccine. They’re afraid of it, they don’t trust it, whatever the case may be. Well, none of those people were at Bakersfield Heart Hospital on Wednesday.

A new Gallup poll tells us 71 percent of Americans are now willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccination shot — up from 65 percent in December and just 50 percent in September.

It was 100 percent at Heart Hospital, where 345 vaccinations were administered Wednesday — all of them second doses to people 65 and older.

Three weeks ago these people received their first dose of the vaccine — abd now they were back for their second shots — grandmothers missing their grandchildren, retirees missing other retirees.

One was Korean war veteran Bernie Gregory.

“I don’t want to die,” he said with a laugh. “I’m getting old and I have some issues and I think everybody ought to get it. We’ve had no problems with vaccines for years. That’s why we get a flu shot.”

Duane Damron coached the offensive line at Bakersfield College for years. Now, at 86, he’s eager lay a block on COVID.

“As far as I know, and the testimony I’ve had from other people, I would sure advise doing it,” Damron said of the vaccination. “Each one of us. Do it for ourselves and for the people around us.”

Three grandmothers who came together were unanimous about what they’d do just as soon as their second vaccinations become effective — in seven days, according to Pfizer.

“I want hugs again,” said Gerry Fox. “We all want hugs again but we also want to stay safe and healthy.”

“I ditto that,” said Karen Allec.”

And then, in unison with Wanda Tomaselli, added : “Hugs are good.”

Stephen Montgomery and Joyce Hulen just want to get out of the house.

“I want to get together with our friends,” said Hulen, a retired medical secretary. “Listen to music with our friends.”

“See cultural events with our friends,” said her friend Montgomery, a former railroad man.

“Once they open up again,” Hulen added.

Retired Bakersfield College instructor Bob Funk said there was nothing to it.

“Didn’t even know it was going in,” he said.

Michelle Oxford, president and CEO of Bakersfield Heart Hospital, said the vaccine rollout has been happily uneventful in her corner of the world.

“We have now vaccinated thousands of people here at the Heart Hospital,” she said. “There’s not been any reaction that we’ve had to put into the registry. It’s been very safe, people are very thankful, and overall it’s been a good experience for everyone.”

Their vaccinations won’t make them bullet proof, but these folks, to a man, to a woman, felt a great sense of relief.

The mood was almost festive: People over 65 looking forward to the time they can hug their grandchildren once again. That time is close, thanks to this vaccine.

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