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NC long-term care facility residents get booster shots

Of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 who are vaccinated, most are older and have underlying conditions.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Booster shots for all three COVID-19 vaccine brands are now approved under emergency use authorization for certain populations. Boosters are needed for some because immunity wanes over time, which is typical for all vaccinations.

But with COVID-19 still spreading in the community, people who got vaccinated at the beginning of the rollout may be vulnerable to a breakthrough infection.

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Sharon Towers, a Charlotte-area continuing care retirement community, held a Moderna booster clinic for its residents and staff on Thursday.

Residents said they were excited to get their third dose. The pandemic has hit older people especially hard, and the delta surge led to some restrictions on what residents could do. The hope is this boost in protection will give them some freedom back.

At the start of the pandemic, nursing homes were hotbeds for the virus. The people living in long-term care facilities were the most at risk and strict lockdowns sadly took a mental toll on many.

“There’s definitely a social isolation that goes along with not being able to have visitation for older adults," Chanel Jenkins with Sharon Towers said. "Our team works really hard to make sure our residents are able to stay engaged."

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Isolation residents experienced again during the delta surge. Whenever there is a positive case in the building, everyone must be tested, and visitors aren’t allowed.

RELATED: Child COVID-19 vaccinations could begin in Mecklenburg County by Nov. 6

It’s why another round of COVID-19 vaccines was extremely well received.

“I’m really glad that I had the booster shot today,” Carolyn Kitchen, a resident said after her booster shot.

“There were lots of cheers this morning," Jenkins said. "There were people lined up an hour before our clinic started so they were super excited to be able to have access to the vaccine here on campus."

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Residents of long-term care facilities were first up in the initial vaccine rollout. It’s been about 10 months and naturally, their immunity is waning.

“Now I’m all set,” Kitchen said.

Doctors say it’s extremely important they get the boost in protection. Of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 who are vaccinated, most are older or have underlying conditions.

“It’s just an extra level of protection that they’ll have," Jenkins said. "And I think it will allow them to feel a little bit safer participating in everyday activities like going to the dining hall or group activities or hanging out with their friends."

Staff at Sharon Towers are required to be fully vaccinated as well.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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