Shot in the Arm!

Columbia Basin Care is among first in the nation to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.    

THE DALLES — “I’m so excited!” says Julie Kimbell, a certified medication aide who stands first in line for the Covid-19 vaccine. For 33 years she’s cared for the sick and aging at Columbia Basin Care and she’s eager to receive the life-saving shot. “Getting this vaccine means I can protect our residents, my family, everyone!”  

Julie Kimbell has worked at Columbia Basin Care for 33 years and was first in line for the Covid-19 vaccine. Contributed Photo

On December 31, 2020, Columbia Basin Care joined a historic moment as employees and residents rolled up their sleeves to be among the first in the nation to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.   

Founded in 1964, Columbia Basin Care is the region’s only independent, not-for-profit care center for short-stay rehabilitation and long-term care. Located in The Dalles, the health facility is home to 60 senior citizens and workplace for over 100 people.   

Because more than 100,000 long-term care residents have died from the virus in the U.S., Oregon has prioritized residents of long-term care facilities, as well as frontline healthcare workers, to receive the first immunizations.  

“We’re hopeful this will be a turning point and a fresh start to the new year,” says Leana Tennison, Columbia Basin Care’s Director of Nursing, as she orchestrates the facility-wide vaccinations.   

Sarah Reser, a Nurse and Resident Care Manager at Columbia Basin Care, prepares a shot of the Pfizer vaccine.  Contributed Photo

Today was the first of a two-shot process; the second Pfizer-Biontech shot, provided by Consonus Pharmacy, will be provided in January. The vaccine is free to all residents and staff, and will be offered again in January to new residents and employees who did not take part in the initial offering. Participation is encouraged but not required.   

From an early age, Kimbell felt a pull to help others. “It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do,” she says, “but it’s the most rewarding.” This year has been even more difficult, she admits, but the vaccine offers hope and a bit of relief.   

Scientists, health experts and medical professionals and have worked around-the-clock to provide a vaccine proven to be safe and effective.   

“It’s been fully vetted by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and OHA (Oregon Health Authority),” says Kimbell. “It’s been tested, and I’m excited to protect my friends, my family, and everyone I love and care for.”   

Still, the pandemic is far from over. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses for full efficacy, and it will be months before enough of the population has received them to reach a safe threshold within the community.   

“This past year has been such a challenge,” says Jasen Tennison, Executive Director of Columbia Basin Care. “We’re grateful that everyone has worked hard to keep our residents and staff healthy but we ask that you hold on a bit longer to help ensure the health and safety of our most vulnerable. Please continue to wear your mask, wash your hands, maintain your distance, and avoid large gatherings.”   

Columbia Basin Care is located at 1015 Webber St in The Dalles, 541-296-2156,