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Meet the husband and wife team vaccinating Ohioans, and some of the people they've vaccinated

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Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 03, 2021

BEACHWOOD, OH — Depending on how you look at it, COVID-19 has either forced or allowed many married couples to work closely together, usually from home, during the pandemic. For many, their work is separate while they wait for the pandemic to be brought under control.

One Ohio couple, Nick Betka, PharmD and Hiba Betka, PharmD is also working closely together, helping get residents through the pandemic by delivering COVID-19 vaccine shots. They both work for CVS Health after attending the University of Toledo together.

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Nick and Hiba talk to News 5 about their experience working together to organize CVS Health vaccination clinics across northeast Ohio.

Memories for their daughter

“That’s been the most special part of it because we get to vaccinate together and tell our daughter,” said Hiba, who is making a scrapbook for their one-year-old daughter to look through when she’s older. “One day we get to be like, ‘Not only were you born into a pandemic but your mom and dad got to vaccinate people during a pandemic and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Nick and Hiba help organize and run the CVS Health vaccine clinics that have been vaccinating congregate and long-term care facilities since December.

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Nick and Hiba's daughter will learn about the pandemic and her parents' role fighting it through scrapbooks that the Betka's are creating now.

CVS data shows clinics like those have administered more than 174,000 vaccine first and second doses in more than 1,400 Ohio facilities.

“I can’t imagine being away from my wife or my daughter for a whole year and not seeing them and knowing what’s going on,” said Nick, pointing out that many of the people their clinics vaccinate haven’t seen their family in person or hugged relatives since the pandemic started.

The people they vaccinate

The Betka’s vaccine clinics reach residents like Menorah Park’s Marlene Goodman, Marty Silverman, Marc Frisch, and Jane Friedman.

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CVS Health and other healthcare providers have been going into facilities like Menorah Park to vaccinate Ohioans who have a greater chance of serious outcomes if they were to get COVID.

“We haven’t had any problems,” said Goodman, who is a cancer survivor and points out that she outlived the physician who gave her a grim diagnosis years ago.

Residents have been wearing masks and many haven’t been in the same room as family members since the pandemic began.

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Marty Silverman and Marlene Goodman talk about how they haven't had any issues through the pandemic but feel more secure now that they've been vaccinated.

“The touching, the holding, and so forth, I’m looking forward to that,” said Marc Frisch, who says he’s been resigned to video calls, phone calls, and family visits outside his window.

Some of those precautions are still in place, but the vaccine provides an extra layer of protection.

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Frisch says he's been able to talk with friends and family over video chat, phone calls, and from behind windows through the pandemic.

“Now that we’ve had our vaccine, we feel even more secure,” said Silverman.

Friedman has taken to singing to lift her spirits and those of her friends and family.

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Friedman uses her singing talent to lift spirits as friends and family endure pandemic safety measures.

“A lot of my friends and a lot of my relatives have gotten depressed form this COVID,” said Friedman.

She’s combined her singing talent and sense of humor to create parody songs marrying songs with lyrics about overcoming the pandemic:

“Our planet has caught a virus and it’s spreading quickly so we practice distancing.
Alexa’s become any best friend and she always answers all my questions with such zing.
Did you Clorox that phone, that knob, that faucet?
Wash your hands very well, that’s swell, excel…
The sun will come out tomorrow, so you gotta hang on ’til tomorrow, come what may.
Corona, corona, please leave us alone-a, we pray that you go away.
Corona, corona, please leave us alone-a, we pray that you stay away.”

Jane Friedman's COVID parody song

A uniquely-Cleveland perspective

Nick grew up around Northeast Ohio and understands the struggles that come from rooting for its sports teams. That’s why he says the battle against COVID is not unlike the NBA season where Cleveland finally triumphed.

“We’ve had a lot of losing all the time and not enough success,” Nick said about both the Cavs and COVID.

Cavs win the 2016 NBA Finals
LeBron James celebrates after winning the 2016 NBA Finals.

That’s why he equates the work he and Hiba are doing to the run LeBron James and his 2016 Cavaliers team made.

“The Cavs celebrated a championship,” said Nick. “Our championship is bringing the vaccine to everybody so we can all get vaccinated.”

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