Nurse Manager Teri Grados receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Mary Ann Salinas at San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
Nurse Manager Teri Grados receives the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Mary Ann Salinas at San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

Staff at SF Jewish senior home get first Covid vaccines

UPDATED Dec. 22, 10:45 p.m.

The San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, one of the largest senior facilities in the Bay Area, administered 195 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine today to some of its frontline workers, including doctors, nurses, certified nursing assistants, housekeeping staff and food service workers.

It is one of the first skilled nursing facilities in the state to administer the vaccine to its staff, according to Michael Wasserman, President of the California Association for Long Term Care Medicine.

“It feels like injecting hope,” said Bridget Conlon, one of the nurses who received the vaccine. Since March, Conlon has been working within the SFCJL’s Covid wing, where recovering patients are brought from nearby hospitals to recover from the virus, an experience that Conlon described as “exciting and challenging.”

How does the vaccine shot feel?

“Not painful at all,” Conlon laughed. “I’m hoping tomorrow all I will have is a sore arm.” Conlon said she chose her left arm for the shot since she is right-handed.

Dr. Stephen Hall, director of SFCJL’s acute geriatric psychiatry hospital, said that the arrival of the vaccine for the Jewish senior home made him “very happy.”

Dr. Stephen Hall smiles with his "Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card" after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
Dr. Stephen Hall smiles with his “Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card” after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

“I’m an optimist,” said Hall, who also received a dose of the vaccine. “It will take a level of stress off of my shoulders.”

Hall did say that his day-to-day work with residents and patients won’t change for a while. He will still have to wear personal protective equipment and socially distance from others during work, since the research has yet to reveal whether someone who receives the vaccine can still spread it to other people.

“Over time, as more and more people get vaccinated, then it will start to kick in and I think we’re looking at the spring to summer time period for that to really make a big difference in terms of our day-to-day,” Hall said.

But to have the “extra layer” of security is good, said Hall.

“Health care workers are stressed out right now,” he added.

The first batch of vaccines delivered to the SFCJL came from the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

SFCJL spokesperson Marcus Young said that the facility will first vaccinate all of its staff members for the next two weeks, which amounts to over 600 individuals. After staff have been vaccinated, the facility will then start with its roughly 325 patients and residents.

The Palo Alto-based Moldaw Residences will be getting a delivery of the vaccine from Walgreens during the first two weeks of January, Executive Director Elyse Gerson said in an email to J.

Registered Nurse Bridget Conlon waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)
Registered Nurse Bridget Conlon waits to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, Dec. 21, 2020. (Photo/Gabriel Greschler)

Other Jewish nursing homes in the Bay Area are still waiting to receive a vaccine delivery date.

Todd Murch, who is temporarily overseeing the Reutlinger Community in Danville until the new executive director takes over on Jan. 4, said he expects that his facility will receive the vaccine early that month. Ira Kurtz, executive director of Rhoda Goldman Plaza in San Francisco, did not have any word on when his facility will get the vaccine.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved for emergency use by the Federal Drug Administration on Dec. 11. During clinical trials, the vaccine was found to have prevented mild and severe cases of Covid-19 among adult populations with a 95 percent efficacy rate. The vaccine requires two doses, spaced 21 days apart.

The first batch of 327,000 vaccines arrived in California on Dec. 15. The state prioritized the vaccines for frontline healthcare workers at high risk locations, like skilled nursing facilities. California expects to receive 1 million total vaccine doses by the end of December, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some of those doses will be the Moderna vaccine, which was approved by the FDA for emergency use on Dec. 18. California received 110,300 Moderna vaccines on Monday, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, which should fill some of the gap caused by the 40 percent reported reduction in Pfizer vaccines to the state.

The arrival of the vaccine is especially important for the S.F. Campus for Jewish Living as the facility is in the throes of a “significant outbreak” of coronavirus. Since Dec. 7, 45 residents have tested positive and four have died; a total of 34 employees have tested positive since March, according to an update posted on the SFCJL’s website.

The outbreak at this Jewish senior home is reflective of a larger increase in coronavirus cases across San Francisco and the state. The city is averaging above 300 cases a day, which is double what San Francisco experienced during the worst months of the summer.

On Monday, California health authorities reported 37,892 cases and 83 deaths. Newsom also announced in a press conference that he would most likely be extending the stay-at-home order he ordered earlier this month as hospital ICUs continue to experience limited capacity.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at gabriel@jweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.