Vitals staffers Monique Binkley Smith, Ashley Boarman and Emma Dugas contributed to this story.
He’s 80 years old and a disabled Navy veteran, but Daniel Morales Jr. got his COVID-19 vaccination this week because, he says, “I’ve still got some good living to do.”
For the Vallejo resident, getting the vaccination at Sutter Health’s East Bay clinic was a family affair. Daniel, his wife, Corazon, and her little sister Lorraine Carranza all received their vaccinations at the same time. And, like thousands of other seniors throughout Northern California, they were thrilled to receive their first dose of hope because they all have, as Daniel so aptly put, some good living to do. These seniors are among the tens of thousands who have been vaccinated across Northern California since January, along with community healthcare workers.
At the East Bay clinic, 81-year-old Corazon Morales was impressed with how painless getting the vaccination was. “I didn’t even feel it,” she said of the shot.
Daniel agreed, chiming in: “Getting a shot is nothing! I served in the U.S. Navy for 30 years and I was deployed all over the world. I’ve been through a lot worse.”
Daniel and Corazon have 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren to spend time with, so getting vaccinated against COVID-19 was a priority for the Vallejo couple, who made their appointments through Sutter’s COVID-19 call center.
Click here to read more about who is eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccination at Sutter Health, and how to do it.
JoAnn Yuen of San Francisco hasn’t seen her grandchildren since March. But that should change soon. Yuen, 82, was thrilled to be first in line to get her COVID-19 vaccination at a Sutter Health clinic in the heart of San Francisco, and she encourages all seniors to get vaccinated.
“It’s very exciting, and I’m happy that I got this vaccination,” said Yuen, who studied bacteriology and virology at UC Berkeley. “What I read (about the vaccine’s safety) was all very positive, and I did not have any reservations about getting this vaccine.”
Yuen received the Moderna vaccine, which should give her at least 50% protection from COVID-19 until she is able to get her second dose 28 days later, which will give her about 95% protection, according to studies. At that time, Yuen should feel comfortable enough to visit with others she hasn’t seen for a while, including her four grandkids.
In Santa Cruz, Palo Alto Medical Foundation set up shop at the former Skyview Drive-In and conducted a drive-through vaccination. In a very efficient and organized event, seniors and community healthcare workers stayed in their vehicles as they received their vaccinations.
The first patients through were a husband and wife, who gave thumbs up and even an elbow bump to the clinician who administered the shots. They tearfully thanked the staff for their vaccinations.
Also getting her vaccination was Dr. Lonna Larsh, an independent family physician in Santa Cruz.
“It’s so great that they are allowing doctors who are not part of (a healthcare system) to get their vaccine here,” she said. “Being able to get our vaccines is so important for us, for our patients and for our community.”
Back at the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation clinic on Van Ness Avenue, 78-year-old Dan Blackwelder was feeling “lucky and privileged. I feel lucky that I didn’t contract the virus over this past year, and certainly privileged that I’m in the very first group” to receive the vaccination.
Dr. Kelley Scott, an internal medicine physician at the San Francisco site, was ecstatic to see many of her patients walk through the doors to get vaccinated.
“It’s so exciting to know that we are finally doing something actively about this virus,” Dr. Scott said. “After 10 months, being able to fight back, take a stand, do something to really protect patients. It feels momentous.”
She noted that the demand for the vaccine is quite high, but encourages patients to have patience.
“I do feel the vaccination efforts are the beginning of the end. However, it’s going to be a long road. It’s going to take time to get everyone vaccinated,” she said. “But I think there is reason to be very hopeful that we will be able to get back to normal life sooner rather than later.”
For more on Sutter’s vaccinations and updates to the schedules, visit www.sutterhealth.org/covid-vaccine.
Hear patient JoAnn Yuen, 82, on her vaccination:
Dr. Kelley Scott encourages everyone to get the vaccine:
Hear patient Dan Blackwelder, 78, discuss why he feels “lucky and privileged”: