'A step closer': COVID-19 vaccine recipients excited for a return to normalcy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that people vaccinated against COVID-19 can gather safely indoors and unmasked in small groups.
The news fuels a hopeful feeling among the thousands who have received the vaccine that life can start returning to the way it was before the pandemic.
Nurse Diana Monteleone recalls the first time she gave the vaccine to someone and witnessed a side effect she now knows is very common – watering of the eyes and tears of joy.
“I didn’t realize people would be so grateful for it,” she says.
Monteleone was retired for two years and her mother died in April. She came back to work at Hackensack University Medical Center to administer the vaccine. She says that the three days a week that she spends at the hospital has given her a sense of purpose and connection to the people whose stories pour out in these intimate moments as people take a step closer to all the experiences and people that they have missed over the past year.
“I want to see a live rock concert,” says Maggie Porco. “That’s what I really want to do.”
Porco says that in addition to going to concerts, she can’t wait to hug family members again. For pianist Luciano Salvatore, the vaccine means playing in jazz clubs and concert halls.
“There’s no doubt about it, this is a step closer,” he says.
For many, the sting of the vaccine needle prompts thoughts of being with loved ones. Patrice Stanton says that she has her grandkids in mind.
“I’ve been like a caged animal. I’m looking forward to getting out and hugging my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and just getting out in the world again,” she says.
More than 2.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in New Jersey as of Monday.