Yorba Linda senior living facility with zero COVID-19 cases starts vaccinating residents, staff

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- Residents at Eastern Star Senior Living Community in Yorba Linda are beating COVID-19 in more ways than one.

Residents and staff are proud to say they've had zero COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, and on Monday there was reason for hope as many of them received their first dose of the vaccine.

They celebrated by hitting a COVID-themed piñata after getting the vaccine.

"I hit it more than I should've," laughed Rosalee Becker, who is one of about 35 residents who got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on site Monday through a federal pharmacy partnership with CVS and Walgreens.

"It was good. No pain, no nothing," she said.

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A new improvement has been implemented for the system that Orange County uses to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations for residents.

While staff members are also getting the vaccine, the resident services director says they're more excited for their residents.

"Just kind of seeing them in the past year not having that family, just that connection, talking to them and seeing them, it's been really hard on them psychologically," said Esperanza Naaktgeboren.

Since the start of the pandemic, they have not allowed any visitors inside the building. They're proud to not have one case ever since.

"So I think for them, this is that next step to getting closer to have that, just that human touch again. They're super excited. They really are," said Naaktgeboren.

Meanwhile, it's been just over a week since the county opened it's second Super POD site at Soka University in Aliso Viejo. The county says it plans to open additional Super PODs, but they're still looking at sites, so there's no set date on a potential opening. It will also depend on supply coming from the state, which currently only allows the Health Care Agency to run 5,000 to 7,000 vaccinations a day.

Orange County residents are urged to register on Othena.com where there's now a virtual waiting room that will send a notification when one is eligible to set an appointment. So far, more than 500,000 people are in the system, with more than 100,000 of them vaccinated.

The smaller pop-up vaccine clinics at senior living facilities continue to be separate - something residents and staff appreciate, as they try to live the best life within their walls.

"After they were done with their 15 minutes of monitoring, they would exit this pretty green little streamers, and they would go hit the piñata one or two times and they would get a sucker out of it, but they loved it," Naaktgeboren said.

Residents and staff will get their second dose in three weeks.
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