When Edward Stanza’s medical provider offered him an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, he turned it down because they couldn’t give a dose to his husband David Quinte (pictured above, left).
“Even though I have an immune deficiency issue, I wanted David to have it at the same time,” Stanza says. “After 38 years together, it wouldn’t have been fair. One getting vaccinated, and not the other, was not an option for us.”
The opportunity came just two weeks later when the couple was among the residents of Triangle Square, the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s affordable housing complex in Hollywood, to receive the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine through a program administered by Walgreens.
“The most fearful thing is we know couples where one died from COVID and the other lived,” Quinte shares. “It’s scary and very hard to think about—the fear of catching it and then giving it.”
Quinte, 72, has only left their apartment for doctor and dentist appointments while Stanza, a decade younger, has been running any necessary errands.
After they receive their second vaccine dose 21 days later, the pair hopes to regain some sense of normalcy which, until 11 months ago, had included daily walks.
“I’m happy because now I’m closer to the point where I can go outside, walk again, and have some exercise each day. I’m missing that,” Quinte says. “We would do 3–4 miles a day because this is a great walking area here in the Hollywood neighborhood. Since COVID, no more walking, no more anything. So, needless to say, we’ve both gained some weight.”
“Elated and Grateful”
Fellow Triangle Square resident, Maria Cibario, has also been hunkering down since last March, emerging only to go grocery shopping which she does in the early morning hours.
She expresses relief at receiving her first dose of the vaccine.
“I feel wonderful, elated and grateful,” says Cibario, who was the first resident to become vaccinated by the Walgreens team. “It’s been stressful for the whole country and—worst of all—for us seniors. We know if we get sick, there’s very little they can do. We [may]have conditions that make it harder to get well quickly.”
Resident Frank McClane describes himself as “grateful and relieved” to have had the opportunity to be vaccinated at Triangle Square.
“I am thankful to [the Center’s Senior Services]for applying and procuring a place in a congested system to have made this program possible,” he says. “The sense of relief, well-being, and peace of mind they have made possible as the world struggles to address this pandemic, I will never take for granted.”
Don’t Be Afraid
Some of the vaccinated seniors say they hope people afraid of being vaccinated will work through their fears and get their shots as soon as they become available.
“Follow the science,” Cibario recommends. “Please get vaccinated when you have the opportunity. Do so as soon as possible. And after you get vaccinated, do not go back to your old way of life. Still remain socially distanced and safe. Just because you get the vaccine, it does not mean you can start to party down.”
After getting her vaccine, Barbara Boyce (pictured, right) looked back to when she was a small child and afraid of another life-threatening health threat.
“I’m old enough to remember the polio vaccine,” she says. “It’s like, ‘Yeah, give me that vaccine so I don’t get sick!’ “[Polio] was scary because you couldn’t go to swimming pools and do a lot of stuff in the summer because you couldn’t have people around.”
For Stanza, the vaccines are the only way the world can get past the pandemic.
“If we’re able to vaccinate enough of us, the virus cannot be passed on by us,” he points out. “It’s like the HIV virus: you can’t pass it unless you make an effort not to pass it. And the vaccination is it right now. As a survivor of HIV, I know what it’s like. You take a pill to keep the virus down in your blood system. In this case, take a shot. It’s going to take all of us vaccinating to keep us alive.”
To learn more about the Center’s Senior Services, including upcoming activities and workshops, visit lalgbtcenter.org/seniors.