GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A key step to end the pandemic is now underway: Nursing home residents and the people who serve them are now getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

That includes about 175 residents and workers at Samaritas on 32nd Street SE in southeast Grand Rapids.

Samaritas administrator Deborah Mallett was among the first to get the shot Tuesday.

“That’s it? A breeze!” Mallett said seconds after getting the shot, the first of two required doses of the Moderna vaccine.

“It wasn’t bad,” she told News 8. “I saw the needle and she (the nurse) said, ‘Just relax.’ The fact that I had a little cushion in my arm, I didn’t feel anything.”

She took the shot with little trepidation.

“I think that’s because we have really been educated on it, so we’re awaiting it very anxiously,” she said.

There has been a lot of concern about COVID-19 at nursing homes, not only for the residents who are more vulnerable to developing service cases, but also for the employees who could end up taking it home. So far in Michigan, nearly 40% of all coronavirus deaths have been residents and staff of long-term care facilities.

Mallet says vaccinations will have a big impact.

“I think it’s going to impact them in a positive way. We look at our daily Michigan positivity rate and already in Kent County, it has went down tremendously,” Mallett said. “I think it will make them feel comfortable and safe.”

The federal government is handling vaccine rollouts in long-term care facilities. As of Monday, the state’s vaccine dashboard showed, more than 8,000 people in Michigan had been vaccinated through that federal program.

Organizers at Samaritas expected to have the first round of shots done by the end of the day Tuesday.