The Coast News Group
Francis Norris, 100, of Carlsbad was the first resident at the La Costa Glen retirement community to receive the COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 18. Photo by Steve Puterski

100-year-old first in line as La Costa Glen distributes vaccine

CARLSBAD — Finally a glimmer of hope and excitement washed over the residents and staff at the La Costa Glen retirement community.

The facility became the second-largest entity in San Diego County to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to its community. And the first person to receive their first dose was 100-year-old Francis Norris, who has lived at La Costa Glen for 18 years.

Her daughter, Ginger Lane, also received the first of two shots and said the past 10 months has been difficult for her mother. But Monday was a reason for excitement and optimism as about two dozen staffers from CVS in Orange County set up vaccination stations for 795 residents and about 400 staffers.

“A big weight has been lifted off your shoulders,” Lane said. “We take a ride every day up and down the coast. We try to stay insulated, but it’s been taxing and hard for her to understand the importance of it all.”

Keith Kasin, executive director of La Costa Glen, said the past 10 months have been difficult for the residents at the typically lively facility. Gone were the days of social interaction such as bridge games, activities and group meals.

He said the facility only had a couple of COVID-19 cases over the past 10 months. The coronavirus has ravaged senior communities across the country and locally, but La Costa Glen has been relatively lucky, Kasin added. Residents return in three weeks to get their final shot, he said.

Residents began lining up at 10 a.m. to fill out paperwork, get their shot and then take a 15-minute rest so staff could monitor them for any reactions. They dubbed the event “vaccines are an act of love.”

“They are extraordinarily excited, and they’ve been looking forward to the vaccine for a while,” Kasin said. “It was earlier than anticipated. This is an act of love and a gift.”

San Diego County also expanded its vaccination appointments to all residents 75 and older, according to a press release. Additionally, the county is using Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres baseball team, as a superstation site to vaccinate thousands of people per day.

Kasin said La Costa Glen is at the high-end of the priority list and was able to secure the vaccines rather quickly. He said another property, GlenBrook, a skilled-nursing and assisted-living facility, received vaccines on Jan. 4 and were scheduled to receive the second doses on Jan. 21, according to Chelsea Wilson, a spokeswoman for GlynnDevins, the marketing firm that works with the two Carlsbad facilities.

As for La Costa Glen, Kasin said they had to push back the vaccine date due to the total number of staff and residents.

“We pushed out a week so we could do two days,” he added. “We’ve been doing an awful lot of education. We’ve had our physicians and our medical directors to fill out forms and make them feel confident about it.”