COVID-19 has highly impacted senior living communities, but residents in one facility have beaten the virus — literally.

Residents at The Westminster-Canterbury on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia Beach, Virginia, celebrated an incredible milestone in their fight against COVID-19 as 99% of them received their vaccinations. To celebrate, they held a party on March 9 that featured a coronavirus-shaped pinata. 

“There were no shortages of residents who were ready to take a bat and take a swing at the COVID piñata,” said Ashley Allman, the community’s director of public relations.

Residents at the facility have had a difficult time since the pandemic began. Adhering to new protocols, the nearly 700 residents were forced to hug their loved ones through a shower curtain, which they called “the hugging wall.” Dining services were limited, and visitors were separated by plexiglass.

“So much of this past year has been challenging,” said Allman. “Residents not being able to go out and hug family members just because our seniors, our residents, are a very vulnerable population.”

Fortunately, restrictions have begun to relax, but some safety measures are still in place. Residents can now have visitors in their apartments, but dining services remain limited.

“We’re still wearing masks on campus, but their loved ones can come and visit them, and they’re able to hug their loved ones,” Allman said.

The nearly 700 residents at the facility join approximately 33 million Americans who are now fully vaccinated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This accounts for 99% of their population and 10% of the country’s population.

“It feels like we got our life back,” said resident Brenda LaDell.

The seniors were quick to hack into the pinata, filled with a mix of fun and practical items. In addition to candy, chocolate, and alcohol, there was hand sanitizer to remind residents to continue to exercise safety precautions.

March 11 marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, nearly half a million Americans have died from the virus. The majority of deaths were in those who were 65 and older.

What do you think of the community’s COVID-19 party? Do you agree with the elderly being first in line to get the vaccine? Which groups do you feel should be prioritized?