Molly, a German Shepherd mix, laid quietly at Raymond Marquez's feet as the nurse filled out the paperwork required before giving a coronavirus vaccine.
Marquez, an Army veteran, lives at Century Villages at Cabrillo, a housing and service complex for veterans suffering from homelessness. He said he had received a call asking if he wanted to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"The VA called me and asked if I was interested," Marquez said as he rolled up his sleeve. "I said, ‘why not?' I'm feeling good about it."
Marquez was one of about 200 veterans living at Cabrillo who received a vaccine on Sunday, Jan. 24. It was the VA Long Beach Healthcare System's first clinic off the VA Hospital campus, said medical center director Walt C. Dannenberg.
"We have an amazing team," Dannenberg said. "We have an ample supply (of vaccine), so it made sense. It is working well."
About 15 Veterans Affairs staff members worked the temporary clinic, which was set up in the Villages' social center. Dannenberg said the VA has its own dedicated allocation of the Moderna vaccine.
Kim Wee, vice president for residential services for Century Villages, said the clinic was set up in just one week.
"It took two Zoom calls and a lot of one-on-one calling," Wee said. "The real key was contacting our vets, answering questions they had about the vaccine. We did a lot of outreach."
Wee said the Villages staff had already been vaccinated, so were able to answer questions from experience. That worked — only about 5% of the veterans contacted turned the vaccine down.
"That's about the same of the staff," Wee said. "I think the outreach helped. And the veterans are used to vaccinations and such from the government."
Veterans received appointments for the second vaccination immediately after getting the first shot Sunday. Moderna boosters are supposed to be received 28 days after the first shot.
Dannenberg and Wee said there will be more vaccination sessions until all veterans who want them get the shots. A second session is scheduled in two weeks, Wee said.
"Of course, that's Super Bowl Sunday," she added. "We have big screens in there (the next room), so maybe we'll just have a Super Bowl shot party."