Whenever Muriel and Don Cecconi talk to their children, they hear the same question:

Did you get the COVID-19 vaccine yet?

“They all want to come and see us,” Muriel said. “They keep asking, ‘When are you going to get it?’”

The Cecconis, married 71 years, are pleased to tell their large extended family that they each have received two shots of the vaccine.

Thanks to a collaborative effort, the Cecconis received the vaccines close to home—at The Village at Appledorn, their independent senior living community.

Shawn Pelon, a nurse with Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital, delivered their second COVID-19 vaccines Wednesday at a clinic held in Appledorn’s dining hall.

The clinic, which vaccinated more than 60 residents, is one of many hosted in Ottawa County through a partnership formed by the independent living communities, area health systems and the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.

“Independent living facilities were not a part of the federal pharmacy COVID-19 vaccine effort to long-term care facilities,” said Marcia Mansaray, deputy health officer of Ottawa County.

Through the partnership, she said, “We share vaccines and work on a schedule together to make sure we quickly reach these older adults.”

Spectrum Health has vaccinated 275 people at clinics at four senior living facilities: Royal Park Place in Zeeland and McIntosh Manor and two Appledorn locations in Holland.

“A lot of people said, ‘We are so grateful you came to us,’” said Joe Klesney, the chief operating officer of Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital.

Setting up the vaccine clinics was a team effort that required quick action and a willingness to learn on the job, he said, adding that he cannot say enough positive things about the team.

“Overall, I think it’s a huge benefit for the community,” he said.

Family connections

The Cecconis signed up for three vaccination lists in hopes of getting the vaccine. But while still waiting for an appointment, they learned about the clinic planned at Appledorn.

“I was delighted,” Muriel said. “I’m 90 years old. I don’t want to get the virus.”

She especially appreciated the location of the clinic—in a dining hall that is walking distance from their home.

Muriel and Don, 96, celebrated their 70th anniversary in February 2020—not long before the COVID-19 pandemic declaration. They enjoyed a weekend-long celebration with their family, which includes five children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren.

But since then, they have curtailed visits with family. They canceled a 90th birthday celebration for Muriel last April.

With vaccines now available, the Cecconis hope the threat of the virus will diminish and they can once again enjoy family gatherings.

“At our age, it is really, really important that we see our family,” Muriel said.