Smiles and Sighs of Relief at Community Vaccination Site in Menands

Some came solo. Some came in pairs. There were even a few foursomes and fivesomes gathered in a line that led inside the North Albany YMCA on March 31.

The draw?

A Covid-19 vaccination site hosted by Whitney Young Health, working in partnership with Albany County officials.

“I brought my mom,” said Eunice Egole, of Albany, whose mother, Stella, smiled after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, her eyes bright over the top of her mask.

“I just want my grandkids to be able to come to my house,” she said. “This will help.”

Her daughter, who also received the vaccine, expressed her gratitude for the clinic, which was staffed by Whitney Young Health employees and volunteers, including nursing students from Maria College and students from the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “I had Covid, so I know how serious this is,” Egole said. “I lost 20 pounds and I couldn’t get out of bed for three weeks. My mom’s health is compromised, so I really wanted to get her here.”

Jean Dobbs, of Albany, said she “did some research and followed the news on TV” before making the decision to get vaccinated. “I’m 77, so it seemed like the right thing to do.” And she didn’t let her fear of needles stop her, either.

As Pharmacy Intern Ernessa Serulien administered her vaccine, Dobbs sang “Hallelujah” and averted her eyes from her arm, then said, “Oh, my goodness. That didn’t hurt at all!”

When asked if there was anything she looked forward to that being vaccinated might allow, she said, “It’s nice to think about travel again. I want to go to Puerto Rico.” But the greatest gain of all, she said, was the prospect of being with family.

Dobbs has four children and served as a program director for Catholic Charities for more than 30 years before retiring. She said that in her job she “saw everything—from ashes to beauty.” And this was true during Covid, as well. Her family suffered the loss of beloved family members during the pandemic, one of them to Covid-19.

“We have a big family,” she said, so the thought of being together safely offers some comfort, she said.

Family was also on the mind of Matt Mason, of Albany, whose 17-month-old son was born just prior to the pandemic. “I just want to be able to bring him to the grocery store,” he said. “I’ve never been able to do that. Think about that for a moment.”

He said he was thrilled to receive the vaccine at the community clinic, which served more than 400 people that day, all of whom are scheduled to receive their second dose this month.

“I’m ready for number two,” Mason said. “Let’s get this done!”