The three degrees that the thermometer marked and the two hours delay with which the Community of Madrid has reached its first vaccinated have not reduced expectations. While Nicanor, 72, waited in the Vallecas nursing home for his dose of the Pfizer vaccine, the residents of the municipality supported him at the doors, in silence and stoically enduring the cold. Some between walks to warm up, others using the park pedals and the majority standing firm while they asked the battalion of journalists when that serum that promises to be the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic would arrive. Most of those present, older than Nicanor, shared the same thought: “Let’s see when it’s my turn.”
At 12:24 noon, two vans of the National Police and a couple of cars entered the narrow street escorting the Logista Pharma truck, which today will route through three nursing homes in the capital: east of Vallecas, belonging to the Agency Madrileña de Attention Social (AMAS); las Azaleas, from the ASISPA group, in Ciudad Lineal; and Parque Almansa, from Grupo Ballesol, in Moncloa-Aravaca. At that same moment, the director of the first one has gone out in search of the box that contained the necessary doses to vaccinate 50 residents of his center today. All the centers have been chosen based on three criteria: that they are public, that they have a large number of inmates and that they do not have any coronavirus infection.
Nicanor, who has lived in the residence with his wife for two years, received his dose fifteen minutes after the triumphal entry of the van. Later, he was followed by José Antonio, a 78-year-old former journalist, and María, 86. This Sunday the oldest of the residence, Gerarda, who at 99 years old, has also been vaccinated in Vallecas, who has not hesitated to give her consent, according to spokespersons for the center. The fifty chosen ones have been carefully selected after a medical analysis. In total, 139 users live and 150 people work, so there is still almost a third of the residence without vaccination.
Among those who were not on the first list are Josefa and Eutinio, 85 and 88 years old. “We have antibodies,” she said on the way out, about to go for a walk holding her husband’s arm. “I was admitted from February 6 to 18 with all those symptoms, and he has passed it but without realizing it,” he explained. Both are happy that their home is a pioneer in vaccination, but they count the minutes so that it also happens to them as soon as possible.
As for the management of the residence, where they have lived for four years, the marriage is undone in flattery. They say that the workers are caring and professional and that, although they cannot receive visitors or use the common places, they have felt very well cared for. “We have a staff that has given their lives,” says Josefa. “There is even a whole free floor in case someone gets sick,” he explains, but also says that “it hasn’t been used since June” and that they have not had to mourn any death.
“Everything they have to do to us, here we are,” she says. “I have a lot of faith in science.” She is not the only one, although they do not reside in a senior center, the residents of Vallecas eagerly await their turn. The district has been one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Its high population density and average income have made it a focus for a virus that does understand social class. In fact, just a month ago the Community of Madrid lifted its restrictions here after more than 60 days of perimeter confinement.
“It is a very important gesture, I had breakfast and got off straight because I didn’t want to miss it,” says Dolores, 72, a contemporary of Nicanor. He assures that he will get the vaccine “as soon as they call me”, because he has had a very bad time these months. The same as Antonio and Cecilia, who have lost “several friends along the way.” They are very happy for the residents, because although they do not know anyone they have been very concerned “seeing everything that happened inside the residences.”
The one who does have friends inside the Vallecana residence is Mercedes, 89 years old. “They are all very willing, we go like me,” he explains. “Well, only one, Carmen, it scares her a little”, but she hopes that she will change her mind when she sees that “nothing happens” and that “it is like other normal vaccines,” she says, hitting the pedals in the park opposite. . Although the epidemiological situation in this center is favorable and the residents can go out, Mercedes misses going with them to mass and to the bar to have a snack because “some are scared.” He also longs for “the festivities of San Isidro” and “the Christmas concerts” offered by the municipal orchestra inside the residence. She hopes these first shots mean they can “dance again next year.”