Vaccinations for 115 residents of Mission Commons assisted living community in Redlands marked the beginning of the next stage of the coronavirus response on Friday, Jan. 15.

All but 13 of the community’s residents — all 65 or older — got the vaccination Friday, along with 30 associates, said Jeff Brown, regional director of operations for Holiday, which runs the community.

“We’re among the first in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” Brown said. “This is the final step in ensuring the health and safety of our residents so we can start to get back to normal.”

Assisted living and skilled nursing facilities were among the worst centers of COVID-19, especially in the first few months of the pandemic, with vulnerable people gathered together.

Mission Commons has had 45 coronavirus cases since March, Brown said, declining to say how many people have died.

In Yucaipa, Cedar Mountain Post Acute Rehabilitation had 16 deaths and 103 cases of the coronavirus by April, while in Riverside, 83 patients were evacuated from Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center after residents tested positive for the coronavirus and just one of the 13 employees showed up to work.

Safeguards have been put in place in the intervening months, including screening questions and temperature checks for anyone who enters Mission Commons, Brown said, but he acknowledged that such homes had been outbreak centers.

“That’s even more reason we’re glad to get this (vaccine) here and stop that process,” he said.

The vaccinations were administered by CVS Pharmacy. San Bernardino County officials don’t have any records on how many vaccines are administered by pharmacies, spokesman David Wert said.

Getting the shot was a moment of relief for Lloyd Roberts, 94, but he doesn’t plan to change his lifestyle much after he gets the second dose in three weeks.

“I think with more people getting the shot now, we’re right at the peak of the worst time,” said Roberts, who’s had to cut out weekly visits with his wife’s daughter and in-person church attendance. “We have to stay hunkered down a while longer.”

A World War II veteran and polio survivor, Roberts said he’s frustrated by the lack of unity against the common foe that he sees now.

“The country was outraged and united by that unfair attack on Pearl Harbor, so we all buckled down to support our country during that time of challenge,” he said.

Even before he enlisted in the Navy, on his 18th birthday — nine months before the end of the war, he said, joking that “a soon as the Japanese heard I’d enlisted, they surrendered” — he saw families all around him sacrificing.

“We gave up meat, sugar, gasoline, we had blackouts,” he said. “… When the country needs you, you have to put up with a few sacrifices and inconveniences. We need to do some things to protect us now from the COVID, like wear masks and social distance.

“I was really more pleased with what happened back then.”

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