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Superintendent Connie Lambert-Eckel receives first vaccine at Lakeland Village the first week of 2021.

DSHS Lakeland Village receives first doses of vaccinations

Jan. 4, 2021 was a day to remember at Lakeland Village. It’s the day 31 residents who live at the facility and 198 staff who work at the habilitation center in Medical Lake received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The center is one of four operated by the state that provides 24/7 care for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

First to receive the injection was Superintendent Connie Lambert-Eckel, who wanted to show confidence in the vaccine and demonstrate a desire for change.

“I am so grateful we were offered the vaccine today,” said Lambert-Eckel. “And I’m hopeful for the residents and staff after a particularly harrowing and debilitating year with COVID-19.”

The federal government teamed up with CVS and Walgreens as part of its national vaccination program. DSHS’ Developmental Disabilities Administration applied for each of the residential habilitation centers to receive the vaccine through the federal program.

Members of the CVS Pharmacy Partnership Team traveled to Lakeland Village and delivered the inoculations. The team could not vaccinate anyone who was under quarantine or exposed to risks so they will return Jan. 21 to vaccinate anyone they missed.

Although the superintendent said the shot was so painless she believed she’d been tricked; and others said you could scarcely feel it, resident Donald Reichert yelled, “Ouch!” when injected.

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Resident Donald Reichert receives vaccination against the coronavirus Jan. 4, 2021 at his LV cottage.

Reichert is an older man with underlying health concerns — the highest-priority group of residents for Lakeland Village. He regained his typical, happy composure shortly after his vaccination.

Michelle Sullivan, quality assurance director, said she felt celebratory: “It was lovely to get the vaccine at the beginning of a new year; and end of a nightmare year.” Sullivan enjoyed witnessing others’ joy at being vaccinated; but admitted to feeling guilty too — for receiving the vaccine before her 75-year-old mother, who has been isolated since March.

A couple staff members were surprised and relieved to receive the vaccine after hearing of a shortage of doses. Both got in touch with their families immediately to share the good news.

Every employee vaccinated plays a key role in caring for the residents at Lakeland Village. The first residents to receive the vaccine are those in the nursing facility. The nursing facility doctor followed the vaccinators to each cottage and checked on the residents personally. Lambert-Eckel said they are scheduling dates later this month to begin vaccinating residents and staff in the intermediate care facility.

The day after the vaccines were administered the superintendent reported everyone who received it was doing fine. “Our goal is to ensure vaccines are available and administered to all staff interested and all of our residents,” said Lambert-Eckel.

Lakeland Village received 300 doses initially and hopes for 150 more in the near future. Yakima Valley School is scheduled to receive its vaccinations this week and Fircrest School in Shoreline is slated for next week.

Visit the DSHS webpage for information about how the agency is caring for its Developmental Disabilities Administration clients during the pandemic.

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