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As spring returns, locals reflect on pandemic in Baldwin Park 

Residents share thoughts on Covid-19 vaccines

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It’s been a difficult year.

For much of it, many people have been stuck inside, awaiting the end of the coronavirus pandemic, which, to date, has killed more than a half-million people in the United States. With the advent of vaccines and warm weather, however, Baldwin residents took to Baldwin Park and spoke about their hopes for the future.

“I’m very excited about spring because it’s the best time of the year,” Baldwin resident Felicia Williamson, 75, said last week. “I’ve had both vaccine shots of the Moderna, and I’m more comfortable being out and about.” 

Williamson said that besides being restricted socially, the pandemic has not affected her greatly. Now that she has been vaccinated, she said, she plans to eat out more and meet in person with friends more often. 

Baldwin resident Curtis Feggins, 40, who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, said he is excited as the weather warms because he is hopeful this summer will see the virus end. He said he planned to take part in outdoor activities with his children, like baseball and softball and riding bikes. 

“It’s nice being outside because the weather is changing,” Feggins said, “and the idea of getting the vaccine didn’t bother me because I’m just tired of the virus. At one point, the pandemic closed schools for my children, and this affected my kids more than it did me because of the lack of socialization.” 

Baldwin resident Jennifer Jusino, 37, said she recently returned from a trip to Mexico after she was vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech shot with her husband. The couple stayed in an all-inclusive resort. 

“I’m less nervous because as time passes, more people are getting vaccinated,” Jusino said. “Mexico was top-notch and very precautious because they take your temperature and they have people that touch elevator buttons for you . . . They were so clean, too.” 

Jusino said she plans to travel more with her family to places that are within driving distance in the next few weeks. As an essential worker, she said the pandemic did cause her to lose some of her friends, who died of Covid-19. 

“My hope is that the pandemic goes away and that everyone can get healthy and vaccinated so that we can go back to normal,” she said. “Now that I’ve been vaccinated, I’m more comfortable going out to places now.” 

Another resident, Lorraine Benoit, 48, said she is a nursing assistant on a recovery floor in a hospital. She said she received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.  

“During this pandemic, I’ve gained a lot of weight, so spring gives me the chance to exercise and lose the weight,” she said, adding that her weight gain is owing to the stress of her job, where she has seen many patients die of Covid-19. 

“At first,” Benoit said, “I was nervous about getting vaccinated because the idea of having something that I’m not familiar with injected into my body scared me, but I felt more reassured when I saw more and more of my co-workers getting vaccinated together . . . I feel so liberated now that I’m vaccinated, and I’ll be protecting myself and others.”

As of April 6, people 16 and over in New York became eligible for the vaccine. Trials are still under way, however, to determine if it is safe to administer to teenagers and children under 16.

“I just turned 16, so I will get the vaccine soon, and I’m happy the weather is warming up, as well, because this winter was a harder one than usual, being trapped inside all the time and having to follow strict social-distance protocols,” said Baldwin High school student and Baldwin resident Jayland Coward, adding that his grandmother’s death from Covid-19 also made the winter season painful for him.  

“Even though I’m too young to get the vaccine,” 15-year-old Baldwin High School student and Baldwin resident Cassandra Roger said, “I’m not just going to run and get it done when I’m eligible because I’ve heard a lot of rumors about the vaccines.”