'I'm home free': PHA residents receive second vaccine dose

MCKENZIE DELISLE/STAFF PHOTOGeorge Miller, of the Clinton County Health Department, puts a bandage on Jean Hintz’s arm seconds after injecting the 79-year-old with her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Hintz, a longtime resident of the Russell H. Barnard Apartments on Flynn Avenue in the City of Plattsburgh, walked over to fellow Plattsburgh Housing Authority senior high-rise Lake View Towers for a CCHD vaccine clinic held there Friday. She had attended one there about four weeks prior to receive her first dose of the vaccine. “It makes me feel better, safer,” she told the Press-Republican. 

PLATTSBURGH — Lake View Towers resident Paul Costin was all smiles while receiving his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday morning. 

Moments after the needle exited his arm, the 76-year-old said, "Now, I'm home free." 

'NEARLY EVERYONE' 

Costin has lived at the Flynn Avenue apartment building for more than 25 years and was one of about 100 other Plattsburgh Housing Authority (PHA) residents to receive a second shot Friday. 

PHA has approximately 225 individuals living within its three, senior high-rise buildings: Lake View Towers, Russell H. Barnard Apartments and Robert S. Long Apartments. 

Executive Director Mark Hamilton said some residents were skeptical of the vaccine and about 35 percent of them were not 65 years or older, rendering them ineligible at the time of the first vaccine clinic held about four weeks ago. The state had not yet opened up the vaccine to persons with certain comorbidities by that date either.

"We are very pleased with the number of vaccines the Clinton County Health Department was able to offer," he told the Press-Republican. "Nearly everyone eligible and wanting the vaccine was able to receive it."

OUT THE DOOR

The Health Department set up in a common area of Lake View Towers Friday with staff enough to inoculate two residents at a time. 

Individuals eager to receive the second dose filled up the room's available seating and formed a line out the door. 

Residents of all three PHA senior high-rises were in the mix Friday. 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) staff were helping to transport residents of the Robert S. Long Apartments, located on Oak Street, to the Flynn Avenue building.  

LIFE AFTER

While some may be nervous around needles, Costin, who said he was used to being "picked and probed," only had positive things to say about receiving the vaccine. 

"I'm glad to get it," he said. "It's a good thing." 

Asked if he was looking forward to doing anything special once officially vaccinated, Costin said he would continue to wear his mask and follow protocols, as if he hadn't had the vaccine, to help keep others safe. 

"After that, I don't know," he said. "I'd like to go to the casinos; that would be a lot of fun." 

The Plattsburgh native enjoyed traveling to the ones in St. Lawrence County to play rounds of black jack and take his chance on slot machines. 

Jean Hintz, an 11-year-long resident of the Russell H. Barnard Apartments, spoke a lot of traveling, though she didn't have any plans set for the future just yet. 

The 79-year-old mother of six has 15 grandkids and six great-grandchildren who all live out of the area. She said she has kept in touch through phone calls and texts. 

"It's better than not talking to them," she said with a laugh. 

Though she grew up in Plattsburgh, Hintz has been all over, even spending time in Japan as a kid, while her father served in the military. She said she enjoyed her travels to Oklahoma, Washington and Maine the most. 

'GET SICK OR THE SHOT'

When she received her first vaccine about a month ago, Hintz said she suffered from a minor reaction. 

"My arm swelled a little bit and it was red where the shot was," she said, adding that she had treated her symptoms with ice. "It was no big deal."

Still, she admitted, she had been a little hesitant to get the second dose, because she had heard some people say it was "really a doozy." 

"You hear so much stuff about it; really you shouldn't pay attention to people," she said. "It's either get sick or get the shot."

With that mindset, Hintz was happy to receive the second dose on Friday. 

"It makes me feel better, safer." 

AN IMPORTANT STEP 

Hamilton said, unfortunately, two PHA residents had died due to COVID-19-related complications since the start of the pandemic last March. 

The executive director said the opportunity to offer vaccinations to the PHA seniors was a step towards returning to a more normal living experience. 

"As challenging as this pandemic has been on the PHA and our team, it has been difficult for everyone in our community," he said. "We've all had to adapt and make personal sacrifices.

"For our residents, that means limiting their social interactions and visits with family and friends. We all know the additional complications that can cause for our seniors," he continued. 

"These vaccines will help to keep our PHA community safe, but it is also another important step in ensuring our entire community remains safe."

He thanked the Clinton County Health Department for its help throughout this process. 

HELPING THE REST

Hamilton said his team was helping any residents who were still hoping to be vaccinated.

"We are working to assist them in signing up at the New York State site on the former Air Force Base and/or registering with local pharmacies when they have availability," he said.

"Recognizing the process of registration can be cumbersome for someone with limited technology skills, our team is helping with that process and coordinating transportation if necessary."

Email McKenzie Delisle: 

mdelisle@pressrepublican.com

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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