89-year-old gets COVID vaccine so he can get back to dancing across New York City

NEW YORK -- Eighty-nine-year-old New Yorker Bob Holzman received his COVID-19 vaccine as soon as he could, hoping it would allow him to get back to his favorite activity, dancing.

Over the last 75 years, Holzman has danced his way around the city's events to the rhythms of swing, fox-trot, samba and salsa.

And until last year, he had never missed a Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing opening. He had been a fixture in dance parties at Manhattan's Bryant Park and other places with dance floors around the Big Apple.

But when the pandemic struck in March of 2020, Holzman found himself stuck at home, happily occupied reading electronic books on loan from the New York Public Library on a variety of topics, such as politics, science and art, and playing scrabble online with friends.

"It was a joke from, I think, probably Betty Davis, she says, 'Old age is not for sissies,'" said Holzman, sitting on a wooden chair in the shadow of a large umbrella spread next to the famous Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in Bryant Park.

"I consider myself lucky and fortunate that I'm still able to dance and jump around and take my shopping cart and do everything else."

Across the United States, COVID-19 vaccinations have changed seniors' daily lives in ways large and small a year after the pandemic drove many in the high-risk group into forced isolation.

Older Americans are again visiting family members, eating at their favorite restaurants, and shopping in stores without fear of death or hospitalization.

"I have no doubt ... that I'll be able to do whatever I did before," Holzman said. "And I'll do it with a sense of gratitude that, you know, I was able to get through it."

As the city has started to open up, Holzman, who hasn't eaten meat for many years, has ventured to vegetarian restaurants around town for new tastes.

For many older Americans, the vaccines have ended a sense of anxiety that had become so ingrained they did not understand how profound it had grown.

"Seniors, people my age, seem to do so much better with the reality of COVID than people who are quite a bit younger," Holzman said. "And my own guess has to do with the fact that when you you're a senior ... You have the resources and the experience to be able to deal with almost any problem. "
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