Life appears to be slowly getting back to normal for San Diego County residents who are fully vaccinated, and many of them are beginning to resume pre-pandemic social activities.
Beth Watt, 80, lives in Carlbad at the La Costa Glen retirement community, where 97.5%of residents are now fully vaccinated.
“It’s a relief," Watt said. "It’s a great relief. Especially being vaccinated, we just have this weight lifted off of us, and we’re so eager to just feel like life is normal, and it’s very close."
According to the San Diego County health department, 18.4% of the population was fully vaccinated as of Monday. Another 29.7% of county residents have had their first vaccination.
Seniors were among the first groups of people eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
Residents at La Costa Glen, where the average age is in the early 80s, began receiving their first dose of vaccination on Jan. 22. According to state health department regulations, an individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after getting their second dose.
During the pandemic, activities at La Costa Glen were tightly monitored, though it was not officially considered to be locked down. As of last Monday, though, organized interactions and activities resumed at the independent living community.
“It felt so nice to sit out in the sun, have a cup of coffee, talk to your neighbors," said resident Don Schoell. "That was terrific. It’s been a huge difference in feeling from one day to the next."
Schoell, 90, spoke to NBC 7 between games of tennis.
“When you get up in the morning now, you’ve got to put a smile on your face and you’re out the door, and there’s all these things to do,” Schoell said.
Meanwhile, the resumption of normal activities has also been welcomed by the residents' family members, who are now allowed to visit loved ones.
“He’s almost turning 91, so to have lost that whole year with my dad -- but this is so amazing," said Kathleen Bennett, Schoell’s daughter. "I have chills thinking about how fortunate I am.”
According to a La Costa Glen spokesperson, roughly 775 residents live in 641 units at the retirement community.
During the past year, there were only two positive COVID-19 cases among residents, and one of those was diagnosed off-site.