SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – There are still many questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine. One is, ‘is it safe to visit a loved one once they’ve been vaccinated?’
When she comes back from school, MarieClaire Christenson always makes it a priority to visit her grandmother at the Good Samaritan Society. One of her most recent visits was for her 93rd birthday a year ago. She planned to visit sooner, but COVID-19 made different plans.
Like many residents at the Good Samaritan Society, Barbra Bot wasn’t allowed to have visitors. Her granddaughter MarieClaire Christenson says it wasn’t just the distance that made the isolation challenging.
“With her dementia, she doesn’t always understand what’s going on when you’re talking to her on the phone. So, you have to be there in person. So, for me, that was really difficult talking to my grandma through a window,” Christenson said.
They were kept apart for a full year. In that time, Bot was vaccinated, and just two weeks ago, on her 94th birthday, Christenson finally got to share a touching moment with her grandmother.
“When I walked in, I touched her hands and… I teared up and I didn’t want her to see I was crying because I didn’t want her to be sad, but it was so emotional because it meant so much to me,” Christenson said.
With the vaccine providing relief to many, Family Physician Dr. Chad Thury with Avera says we still need to be mindful about spreading COVID-19.
“Is that risk zero? No. There is still some risk that you could be hospitalized or suffer a worse outcome. But it is a very effective vaccine by those standards,” Thury said.
He says masking and social distancing is still recommended even by those who’ve had the vaccine.
“That’s because we don’t know yet how well the vaccine prevents transmission,” Thury said.
With only around 10-percent of South Dakotans vaccinated, he says we have a long way to go in finding that out the extent of how well the vaccine works. Good Sam is allowing visitors Christenson says, but they’re still taking precautions.
“You get your temperature taken right when you come in, wear masks when going through the facility to her room. We stay directly in her room. I had a mask on because I’m not vaccinated yet,” Christenson said.
But that being near her once again was a gift for them both.
“It was really emotional to be able to do that again. It was kind of like a piece of my heart was filled,” Christenson said.