Not able to hug mom for 9 months, Knoxville woman hopes vaccine goes to seniors, healthcare workers

All Jennifer Goodman wanted was a hug, something that simple she hadn’t felt in a month from someone she loves dearly, her mom.
Published: Dec. 1, 2020 at 7:32 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 1, 2020 at 9:31 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - All Jennifer Goodman wanted was a hug from her mother, something so simple, but something that hasn’t happened for nearly nine months due to the pandemic.

For almost nine months Goodman hasn’t been able to embrace her 81-year-old mom.

“I haven’t been overly worried, for her,” explained Goodman, “She has no other risk factors as far as other chronic illness, other than Alzheimer’s.”

Her mom lives at Avenir Memory Care in Knoxville.

“I know that where’s she’s living right now, they’re taking extreme precautions,” said Goodman.

Video calls and visits through the windows were how she said hello.

The hope of a vaccine and one that could be prioritized for seniors and healthcare workers gave Goodman some relief.

“Great,” she exclaimed.

“It’s definitely important,” said Mary Lynne Payne, “I would anticipate most everyone would want them to have it.”

Payne is the Director for Marketing at Avenir.

She sees the residents daily and knows how quickly a virus can spread living in close quarters.

“Flu is kind of like this. It can really be harmful and dangerous for elderly, compromised immune systems,” explained Payne.

She said getting a vaccine for the residents would be a decision left up to the power of attorney for each resident.

“I’m a little bit more apprehensive, personally,” said Payne about getting the vaccine for herself.

She worried about people who don’t like to get vaccines.

“So I think there will be a handful of people don’t want to take the vaccine or would prefer not to be forced to take the vaccine. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but they will have a right to say no if they don’t want to take the vaccine, just like the flu shot,” said Payne.

For Goodman, it was a matter of shielding her mom and everyone else at Avenir.

“You think about the other residents that she lives with and staff that are caring for her and they’re an extended family to her and it would also protect them,” said Goodman.

She hoped to be one step closer to seeing her in person again.

“Maybe I’ll be able to hug her!”

On Tuesday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend vaccines be made available to frontline workers and nursing home residents, first. Later this month, the Food and Drug Administration will consider authorizing emergency use of two vaccines made by Pfizer and Moderna.

However, experts estimate that about 20 million doses will be available by the end of 2020, and both vaccines require two doses, making the rationing of vaccinations necessary.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced that the vaccine in the state would be first distributed in phases and initially given to those classified in Phase 1 A. Those who classify as Phase 1 A are frontline health care workers and healthcare responders who are in contact with infected COVID-19 individuals or materials.

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