A team of two pharmacists and a nurse from CVS came armed with folding tables, vaccine cards and vials full of what could be a lifesaving inoculation for around 20 residents and staff at Montara’s long-term care facility Cedar Lane Residential Care Home on Tuesday.
It was the first round of the Pfizer vaccine, and after hustling to get paperwork done over the weekend, Montara resident and Cedar Lane caregiver Lucy Rodriguez was the first to get her shot at the facility on Tuesday.
Rodriguez said her husband is skeptical of the vaccine, but living with her elderly mom and working with high-risk people left her with few options. She also has family who have died from COVID-19, adding to her fear of the virus and determination to get the shot.
“I was a little nervous,” Rodriguez said. “My husband said, ‘What if something bad happens to you?’ and I said ‘There already is something bad happening.’”
Administrator Rosa Diaz said the Montara care facility was almost overlooked in the vaccine distribution because it is so small — just 17 beds. But just when it felt like the process was stalling at the county, Diaz said she reached out to CVS directly and it was smooth sailing from there.
“Being a small facility, we kind of got lost in the shuffle of the whole process,” Diaz said. “… It was just a matter of reaching out to them, and boom, they were out here.”
Facility Manager Ilse Serrano said residents' families were relieved to hear the vaccine was on its way, and worked hard to respond quickly and submit the necessary forms. She said CVS is scheduled to come back Feb. 9 for the second round of shots.
On Tuesday, most of the staff and residents got their vaccine out in the main entrance way, but Serrano said the nurses will go room to room for the less mobile patients. While Serrano didn’t get her vaccine this time to keep staffing consistent if symptoms do emerge, she’s expecting to get her first dose at the next round.
After all the staff and residents are vaccinated, Serrano said she will be looking out for guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how the facility may be able to reopen to family visitation on the patio, but she expects to continue operating with temperature checks and masks for a long time. Even so, she said it’s a relief.
“(Families are) excited about the possibility of reuniting with their loved ones,” Serrano said. “Staff will be more comfortable, because everyone was really scared of getting sick.”
Teresa Zhen, a pharmacist among the CVS vaccine team on Tuesday, said she’s been into facilities as large as 300 to as small as 15, administering around 150 vaccines per day. She just received her second dose on Friday.
One major part of Zhen’s job is to make sure that no one has to pay for the vaccine. Another is to monitor patients for 15 minutes after they get vaccinated. Zhen said she hasn’t seen a single severe reaction so far.
“I personally have not seen any major adverse reactions,” Zhen said. “Nothing severe, no anaphylactic reactions.”
Rodriguez sat patiently as the nurse administering her vaccine asked her a series of questions and told her not to worry if she feels a bit under the weather the next day. Then she asked if Rodriguez is normally good with shots.
“Yes, usually, but this one is different,” Rodriguez said. “It’s history.”