Diane Sheldan has a lot to celebrate right now.
On Jan. 22, she was the first resident at her assisted living home in Saanich to received the initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and on Feb. 1, she will be celebrating her 107th birthday.
A team of public health nurses from Island Health came to the Luther Court Society care home to administer the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine to residents. Sheldan, enjoying the last few days of being 106, was joined by a steady stream of her fellow residents who anxiously made their way down to the makeshift clinic on the first floor where the nurses were waiting.
Because of her age, Sheldan was first in line. She remembers thinking it was “a little exciting and a little nerve-wracking” because she wasn’t sure if it would hurt or what the side effects might be.
The injection wasn’t bad. It was just a quick prick, she said, using her hands to demonstrate the motion.
“We have collectively worried about these elders for a year now – and it was wonderful to see one more barrier put between them and the virus,” wrote Karen Johnson-Lefsrud, executive director of the Luther Court Society, in a newsletter shared with residents’ families.
She included a photo of Sheldan getting her vaccine and noted that when staff asked if they could include her age, she told them it was fine because she is “way beyond being worried about age.”
Sheldan says the secret to a life as long as hers is not thinking about it “because if you don’t think about it, it’s there just the same.” She’s often surprised when someone reminds her of how old she is. Despite being admittedly in denial, she’s “a bit proud” to have reached such an impressive birthday.
Sheldan isn’t sure how she’ll be celebrating this year because of the pandemic restrictions, but she’s hoping for a little party and a chance to dress up.
After more than a century, Sheldan thought she’d seen it all but COVID-19 is “all on its own [and] absolutely different” from everything she’s experienced.
She has two children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren – most of whom she hasn’t been able to see over the past year. However, over the summer, one of her grandchildren got married and came by the care home to have her first dance so Sheldan could watch.
Johnson-Lefsrud emphasized that the Luther Court Society is grateful to the nurses and to their own staff who worked hard to plan the vaccination day. In a few weeks, the nurses will return and the residents will receive their second doses.