Community Involvement

SQ RN helps deliver first COVID‑19 vaccine

San Quentin State Prison RN Douglas Long helps administer COVID-19 vaccine.
Douglas Long, San Quentin State Prison RN, was part of a team delivering the first COVID-19 vaccine shots in Marin County. “Each (Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine) vial treated as a treasure," he said.

Shots provided to Mill Valley nursing home staff

A San Quentin State Prison registered nurse (RN) made history last week. He administered the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine available in Marin County.

Douglas Long, an RN at San Quentin since 2013 who volunteers with the Marin Medical Reserve Corp (MMRC), last week inoculated essential staff at a Mill Valley nursing home. The goal is to help residents there begin to once again venture out of the rooms they have largely been confined to throughout the pandemic.

Reducing the risk to the vulnerable

Protecting frontline workers will greatly reduce the risk of them contracting the novel virus and spreading it to vulnerable residents in congregate living facilities.

“(Staff at the nursing home) were telling us of the condition of some of the residents there,” Long said. “(They were) stuck in their rooms all these months, many of them deteriorating due to the isolation from their social network, their families, their friends.

“It can be quite emotional when you see what’s at stake with the vaccine, we have a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

RN sees light at the end of the tunnel

On Dec. 17, Long helped inoculate 100 essential staff at the nursing home, with every drop of the vaccine used as efficiently as possible.

“Every vial was treated like a treasure,” said Long. The MMRC team and staff from Marin County Department of Public Health learned the intricacies of administering one of the greatest defenses available to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Some of the residents looked on as the staff were given the vaccine. It was some of the first good news they’ve had all year,” said Long.  

Long has been a member of the MMRC for about 12 years.

Service during disasters

He served his community by volunteering at emergency medical clinics during disasters. His service included the Camp Fire in Paradise in 2018 and the series of Napa fires in 2017.

Long stepped up when heard the call for volunteers to help administer the new vaccine to nursing home staff.

Long worked as an RN in emergency rooms for Kaiser Permanente as well as pediatric emergency rooms, before joining the state.

He started as an RN in the Treatment and Triage Area at California State Prison, Solano, since 2011. He is part of California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS).

“I love the emergency care aspect of nursing,” Long said.

Long assisted in San Quentin emergency

In July, Long used his emergency medical experience to assist in the response to one of the most serious outbreaks of COVID-19 at CDCR.

Long recalled the COVID-19 outbreak at San Quentin State Prison. The crisis spurred an all-hands-on-deck response from all institution staff, from nursing to custody and beyond.

“It was non-stop,” Long said of the approximately month-long outbreak. “However, I remember how heroic everyone was, staff and the inmates, to do the best we could to stop the spread. We now have one of the most expert teams in managing COVID in a correctional setting.”

CCHCS administering the vaccine

Long said he will absolutely take the vaccine when it’s available to him under the state and federal distribution plan guidelines.

CCHCS already is administering the vaccine to some frontline workers and high-risk inmates within California’s prison system.

On Monday, Dec. 21, CCHCS received its first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine will be made available to frontline workers and the incarcerated population.

The vaccine will be distributed within CDCR institutions that fall under Phase 1a distribution guidelines.

CCHCS administered the first doses on Dec. 22 at California Health Care Facility in Stockton. The institution houses some of the most medically-vulnerable patients within the state prison system.

Additional institutions with healthcare facilities are expected to receive vaccine doses in the coming weeks.

By Dana Simas, Press Secretary

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