Residents receive first-dose vaccination at South Suburbs recovery home

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BLUE ISLAND, Ill. – Nearly 200 people received their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at a live-in recovery home in the South Suburbs Sunday.

After more than a year of strict lockdown measures, patients at Affordable Recovery Housing are now one step closer to getting back to normal. The charity serves homeless people recovering from substance abuse at the former Mother of Sorrows Catholic High School. With the help of health care provider CIMPAR and the Illinois Department of Public Health, officials administered the first step of protection from COVID-19.

“It’s a big deal, very very grateful,” said Mary Jo Dunleavy, founder of Affordable Recovery Housing. “They’re getting a little stir crazy, so this is going to open the door for them to be able to go see family.”

The pandemic-induced lockdown meant weekly testing, no leaving campus except for going to work, no public transportation, and no family visits. A year into the pandemic, the live-in recovery home hasn’t had a single coronavirus case.

“Having a little bit more freedom and getting rid of COVID,” Walter Garmon, an Affordable Recovery Housing resident, said about receiving the vaccine. “Because it’s not about me. It’s about everyone else.”

Gwendolyn Young, an Affordable Recovery Housing resident, says she can’t wait to spend more time with her grandchildren and ailing father.

Halfway to becoming fully vaccinated, residents will be given their second dose on May 9, Mother’s Day.

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