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Oak Hammock residents participate in national COVID-19 study

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 5:16 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Only two senior living centers in Florida are participating in the CDC’s CITRUS study. One of them is Oak Hammock at the University of Florida.

“I’m not sure they expected as many residents to sign up as they actually got,” said Oak Hammock’s CITRUS study charge nurse, Lis Cherr.

The CITRUS study, short for COVID-19 Illness and Testing among Retirement communities in the U.S., is tracking the effects of COVID-19 vaccines over time in senior populations. The subjects are vaccinated residents of Oak Hammock at the University of Florida.

“When I talk with residents they always thank me for enabling them to do this but in reality, it’s really the participants, the residents who I think are due the thanks. They’re the ones doing the hard work,” mentioned Cherr.

“It’s also a way for the residents to give back to society. I mean these are a lot of retired professors, a lot of doctors, educated, smart, active people and although they’re no longer actively teaching and participating in research. They’re able to do this as a way to give back.”

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155 Oak Hammock residents are testing for COVID-19 weekly and drawing blood quarterly for the CITRUS study.

“And it’s nice to be contributing and also nice to find out every week whether you’re positive or not,” said participant and Oak Hammock resident, Mike Plaut.

The results of the CITRUS study add to the importance of understanding the pandemic for Plaut. He said participation is high within the retirement community because his generation has gone through a pandemic before.

“It’s that many of us lived through similar things before,” mentioned Plaut. “When I was a kid in New York it was polio that we were all concerned about and we knew people who had polio had to live in these iron lung machines and it was very scary to know about. And when the vaccines came out and we were able to get those it was such a relief.”

The CITRUS project is a year-long and expected to end for Oak Hammock residents come December.

RELATED STORY: UF working with other universities on COVID-19 asymptomatic spread study on campus

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