On January 13, 2022, 364 days after the first shot went into the first resident’s arm at the Masonic Homes of California, the job was finished. It was the third and final day that booster shots were being administered at MHC, completing the recommended three-course immunization regimen to protect against COVID-19.
At the end of the year-long effort, 99 percent of residents at the Homes’ Union City and Covina campuses, as well as those at the Acacia Creek Retirement Community, had received all three shots, as had nearly every staff member. “To vaccinate more than 500 people here in Union City, it was certainly an undertaking,” says Soledad Martinez, executive director of the Masonic Homes in Union City.
A challenge, yes. But also a success. As of January 2022, the national vaccination rate among nursing home residents was 87.4 percent, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with 62 percent having received a booster. The rate among nursing home staff was 79.7 percent. By comparison, the Masonic Homes and Acacia Creek numbers are extraordinary. “How we got there, logistically, was a lot of work,” says Joseph Pritchard, the chief clinical officer. “But really, it was about education.”
Martinez also credits the Homes’ awareness campaign for setting the groundwork for the successful immunization drive. “We held talks and gave materials to all staff and residents and answered their questions,” she says.
And while the pandemic is far from over, Pritchard says knowing that residents have taken the single biggest step to keep themselves safe is a source of relief. “For me,” he says, “that’s priceless.”