SAN FRANCISCO—All 715 residents and 1,000 staff of the Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center have been vaccinated, according to San Francisco Health Director Grant Colfax and Mayor London Breed in a weekly COVID-19 conference on January 12, 2021.

A healthcare worker’s office inside Laguna Honda.

Colfax spoke of “good news” regarding the topic of COVID vaccinations at nursing homes in San Francisco. “All the residents of Laguna Honda, the largest skilled nursing facility, have been offered a first dose of vaccine. Across the city, 13 of the 18 skilled nursing facilities have had their residents offered vaccines through the federal pharmacy program for long-term care.” The remaining skilled-nursing facilities are expected to be completed in days. 

Nursing homes have been centers of the COVID outbreak in the United States, as 37% of COVID deaths transpired in assisted living facilities, according to The Atlantic’s COVID Tracking Project. In Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution process in California, the target groups include healthcare workers and long-term care residents. 

Speaking of Phase 1A, Dr. Colfax said residents of skilled nursing facilities are at particularly “high risk of complications of COVID-19 and from dying of COVID-19.”

The FDA-approved BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines were shipped by companies such as FedEx to pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS, which partner with skilled nursing facilities to vaccinate residents and staff. Vaccines are also distributed to healthcare providers such as the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Kaiser, UCSF, and Sutter Health.

During the COVID press conference on January 5, Breed expressed concern for Laguna Honda in the light of the outbreak there in December. “The good news is that, starting yesterday, working with Walgreens, we began vaccinating the residents of Laguna Honda.” 

As of December 31, 163 people at Laguna Honda were infected with COVID, among them 122 staff and 41 residents. Three elderly residents, all aged over 75, died that month, one on December 11, the second on December 22, and the third on December 29.

Lagunda Honda nursing home workers

“Protecting the residents of Laguna Honda Hospital is very personal to me. My grandmother lived there for years at the end of her own life. So I know what those residents are feeling, I know what their families are feeling because they’re not able to visit,” said Breed. “Our fight to keep the virus out of Laguna Honda is a fight to keep these people alive until we could do what we started doing yesterday, protecting them with the vaccine.”

San Francisco Mayor London Breed during a press conference on January 12, 2021

Lagunda Honda employee and San Francisco Department of Public Health worker Zoey Harris said she was in the process of getting interviews and testimonies from staff and residents for the San Francisco News. 

On January 13, California Governor Newsom announced that California entered Phase 1B of the vaccination plan. Under Phase 1B, there are two tiers, and the first tier includes individuals 65 and older, including those at risk of exposure in the following work sectors: education and childcare, emergency services, and food and agriculture. The second tier includes those at risk in the following sectors: transportation and logistics, industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities and services, and critical manufacturing. The homeless and incarcerated are also in the second tier of Phase 1B. 

As of January 19, according to ABC 7 News’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, in the State of California, 4,112,400 vaccines have been shipped and 1,525,816 (37.10%) of vaccines have been administered.

The care facility vaccination plan is a precursor to the plan of COVID-19 vaccine availability at pharmacies to the public in a retail setting. In that retail setting, vaccines are free and will be offered on an appointment-only basis on or through the CVS Pharmacy app. 

Walgreens is following the CDC’s phased distribution schedule to administer the COVID-19 vaccination. Phase 1A will focus on healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and selected populations based on guidelines. Phase 1B includes persons aged 75+, certain groups of healthcare workers. Phase 1C includes persons aged 65-74, persons aged 16-64 with chronic health conditions, and certain groups of essential workers. One goal is to make the vaccine accessible to the public in a retail space by the Spring of 2021. 

“The long-term care facilities had an opportunity either to use CVS or Walgreens. Or they could have opted out and used a state program,” said CVS Health Bay Area regional director Joe Fiesel, as quoted on the Marin County Human Health Services website

The San Francisco News contacted the 1900 19th Avenue CVS on January 15, inquiring about COVID vaccine appointments. The pharmacy worker said to call back in two months, when the vaccine is estimated to be available in a retail space.

South Residence of Laguna Honda

As of January 16, 2021, 8:40 PT, 395,000 deaths according to John Hopkins University, CNN. Los Angeles county reports 1M cases. There was an estimated one COVID case every 6 minutes.