'The weight has lifted': Flood of emotions for North Bay COVID-19 vaccine recipients

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Across the Bay Area, the nation and the world, if there is one injection people will remember the rest of their lives, it is, or will be their first for COVID-19.

"Relieved," said one recipient.

"Joyous," said another.

"That is exactly how I feel. The weight has lifted," said Phyllis Accorneo of Santa Rosa.

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That weight did lift for more than 600 people at the Luther Burbank Center in Santa Rosa, where Sutter Pacific Medical opened up a clinic for anyone 65 years or older. Many heard about it by word of mouth or buzz on the internet.

They registered on line for appointments.

George Sery came all the way from San Francisco.

"When you feel good, you feel good. I feel good," Sery said.

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A major shift is underway in the Bay Area's largest county that could make it easier to get a vaccine appointment. Santa Clara County is going to prioritize people 65 and older for vaccinations, and it's allowing them to go to any of the county's major health providers, regardless of membership. It's called a "No Wrong Door" policy.

For anyone getting these shots, anywhere, the significance begins to sink in during those 15 minutes of waiting for any allergic reactions. It is a quiet quarter of an hour to reflect on what has been a most difficult year.

"It is like I have been in prison since March," Phyllis Accorneo confessed. Her daughter had been hospitalized with coronavirus

"I can't even wrap my head around the fact that almost half a million people are dead," added Mary Hastings.

"Who are you gong to hug now?" we asked Rodney Valrey of Windsor.

"I am going to hug my grandchildren. It has been a long time."

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"We're living in a plague time that so many other people have done," noted Julia McClung of Sebastopol.

The difference? That in previous plagues, those generations before us sometimes spent years with that same weight of worry. By comparison, we now have end in sight and with it, a resumption of blessed normalcy.

It's the not so small, now, miracle of seeing a future again.


"I got the little things back," Rodney Valrey told us, eyes watering. "I am so happy about that."

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