Director of Communication & Engagement
CARLSBAD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
When Vista Community Clinic pediatrician Nicole P. Hartford, DO got her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine back in mid-January, she felt as though there was finally an end in sight to the devastating global pandemic that started a year ago. “It felt like Christmas morning. I couldn’t sleep the night before I was so excited. I definitely had tears (good ones) in my eyes when it happened and I couldn’t stop smiling for hours after. To finally feel one step closer to seeing my family, my friends and getting back to some kind of normalcy is hard to put into words,” said Dr. Hartford.
As a healthcare worker and mother of two young kids, Dr. Hartford shared how she’s had to juggle between taking care of her patients while keeping her family safe. “I think the fear of bringing the virus home will never truly go away but every day we learn more -more ways to stay safe, more ways to treat – so every day gets a little easier.”
While vaccination super stations continue to open in San Diego County, and in an effort to distribute the vaccine as quickly as possible, the County expanded the category of those eligible for a vaccine to include, first, those aged 75 and up, and just recently those aged 65 and up. As a result, many residents of retired communities in Carlsbad have been offered vaccines on site. One of them is business consultant and Carlsbad Chamber member, John Sanders, who lives at Carlsbad By The Sea. “Virtually all the residents asked to be vaccinated – so we were scheduled by which building we were in, and were called by our building captain as the time arrived. We went to the main meeting room, where about a half dozen people were there to give the shots. It went extremely smoothly with no hitches,” said Sanders. Now that Sanders and his wife, Carole, are scheduled to received their second dose in mid-February they are excited about being more protected when they go out. “I feel great and looking forward to having the place open up a little more toward being ‘back to normal’.”
A key part of the effort to get our community vaccinated has fallen on the Carlsbad Fire Department. When Assistant Fire Chief Nick Ordille reflects back on the past year, it is easy to understand his relief as he sees people getting vaccinated. “Last year was very challenging for the Carlsbad Fire Department. We were dealing with a pandemic, but we also had civil unrest that we had to support and manage, and also it was one of the most impactful fire seasons that we’ve had.” In addition to that, like many other agencies, the entire department had to adjust their protocols when responding to emergency calls, and to the fire station. “We knew we had a role in this, and knew we could help, and it is one of the missions of the fire department to keep everyone healthy and safe.”
The news of the vaccine approval was certainly a pivotal moment at the fire department. “I knew we had a lot of work ahead of us, but I was encouraged and hopeful that vaccines would help us turn that corner,” recalls Assistant Fire Chief Ordille, who already got his second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Currently the Carlsbad Fire Department is helping vaccinate first responders within the community as they have trained 20 of their own to be vaccinators. “The Carlsbad Fire Department is working under the County’s direction to see how we can expand vaccination efforts,” said Ordille, acknowledging that the three keys to make the vaccination roll out a success are vaccine allocation/supply, opening more vaccination sites, and training more people to vaccinate. “It’s encouraging to see every day people that are getting vaccinated. I’m excited about that. The more people that we can get vaccinated the sooner we will have life back to normal.”
With vaccination efforts underway and expanding, it is natural for our community to be hopeful. “The idea of being fully vaccinated against this virus that has totally turned our lives around; it seems almost too good to be true. I will still be living cautiously though and following the guidelines – wearing masks wherever my family and I go, washing our hands and of course using PPE at work,” said Dr. Hartford, who is also quick to point out that vaccine availability should not mean letting our guard down. “There finally seems to be an end in sight – don’t get me wrong, this is far from over, and we may never truly go back to our old ‘normal,’ but maybe it’s better that way. I truly hope we don’t ever forget how this pandemic has changed us – for better and for worse – never forgetting the lives lost, the heroes in every turn, the extra time we have gotten to spend with our children, and never taking things like visiting extended family, taking trips or going out to dinner with friends for granted again.”
To make it easier for San Diegans to make an appointment to get vaccinated, San Diego County has launched an interactive vaccination map. Visit www.vaccinationsuperstationsd.com to find the link to vaccination sites in our County!