Couple getting COVID-19 vaccine looks forward to embracing their loved ones again

‘We haven’t been able to hug anyone since last March’

A Denham Springs couple receives the COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by JC Canicosa / Louisiana Illuminator

Thomas Muchow 80, and his wife Diane, 75, had trouble sleeping Tuesday night. They were too excited. After nine long months of isolating themselves, on Wednesday afternoon, the Denham Springs couple was about to receive their vaccinations against COVID-19.

“I never thought this day would come this soon,” Diane Muchow said, fighting through tears at Bernard’s Family Pharmacy in Denham Springs. “Our kids have been so worried about us.”

Diane Muchow receives her COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by JC Canicosa / Louisiana Illuminator

She said she couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by her feelings of relief that there’s light at the end of the tunnel and feelings of gratitude for the doctors and scientists who made the vaccine possible.

She said she most looks forward to “being able to hug my children and my grandchildren. Even though my children are in their 40’s and 50’s, they’re still my babies,” she said. “We haven’t been able to hug anyone since last March.”

“Family getting together is the main thing we’re looking forward to,” Thomas Muchow said.

Diane Muchow switched to working from home and, since March, the couple had only been inside doctor’s offices and, on Election Day,  the polls. They lost numerous friends and family members to the disease, including Diane Muchow’s 77-year-old brother, Edward Macdonald who died in May.

“We already knew it was serious,” she said. “We never questioned whether it was real, we never thought it was a hoax or anything like that, but I guess, somehow, I never thought it would hit that close to home.”

Macdonald was living in a nursing home when he died. His sister’s voice choked up as she described what it was like not being able to see him during his final days.

“We could call and we could talk to him through the window, (but) when he died we couldn’t go see him,” Diane recalled.

Scheduling their appointment for the vaccine wasn’t easy. When the Louisiana Department of Health published the list of pharmacies that would get the vaccine, the department’s website kept crashing as Thomas Muchow tried to sign up for a place in line. A relative who was able to pull up the website told them about Bernard’s Family Pharmacy.

The state started distributing the vaccines to commercial pharmacies this week — a process several pharmacists have described as chaotic and overwhelming, as demand for the vaccine is exponentially larger than the supply.

Thomas Muchow receives his COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by JC Canicosa / Louisiana Illuminator

Bobby Holt, co-owner of Bernard’s Family Pharmacy and a pharmacist who administers the vaccine, said his store was only allotted 100 vaccine doses; and spots filled up quickly. On Thursday, he had 360 names on a waiting list.

“When we do get additional doses, we can start getting through that list and getting everyone healthy,” he said.

Describing the availability of the vaccines as a “road to recovery,” Holt said, “Most people are really glad, really anxious and really want to get the vaccine, and everyone that’s been able to get the vaccine has been really happy to do so.”

“I think everybody’s been looking forward to this, specifically older populations.”

After the Muchows receive their second doses in four weeks, they’re looking forward to getting back to the everyday activities they enjoyed before the pandemic.

“I cannot wait to go to the library,” Diane Muchow said. “I’m a bookworm.”

Her husband said, “I want to go back to the senior center in Denham Springs and go hang out with my buddies and shoot pool.”