LONG BEACH, Calif. — Ralphs' 50 pharmacies in Los Angeles and Riverside counties have already begun administering the Moderna vaccinations to pharmacists and staff.
This week it will begin administering the vaccine to pharmacists in the city of Long Beach.
"Very very excited, we’ve been waiting for it for awhile, we’ve been asking questions of 'when are you guys getting it?'" said Ralphs pharmacy manager Katie Nguyen, who is on the list to get vaccinated. “It’s just a very good feeling that the county is trying to protect their front-line workers, especially those that are in direct contact with patients so that we’re protected and in turn we’re protecting our patients."
In addition to L.A. County, Ralphs pharmacy workers in Ventura, San Diego, and Santa Barbara counties will also receive the vaccine. It’s part of the first tier of Phase 1A of county public health COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Phases.
“To stop the pandemic, I feel that we need to use all the tools available to us and that’s including the vaccine," said Nguyen.
While Nguyen is considered an essential worker, so are the front-line associates that work in grocery stores like Ralphs.
These workers have been moved up to Phase 1B of the vaccine distribution. L.A. County estimates vaccinations for those in that phase will begin in February and into March.
Produce clerks Ulises Lopez and Gerardo Bispo are ready to have their shot.
“It’s good that they kind of put us up there because we have just seen as many people as everyone else, so it feels kind of nice to make us feel that we are important and we are on the front line, so I do feel kind of special and I feel glad we are getting it," said Lopez.
Both are long-time workers at Ralphs — Lopez 25 years and Bispo over 30.
They’ve luckily stayed safe while working during the pandemic, but know the risk is high with how many people come into the store.
“I’ve got family at home, grandkids you know, so I’m afraid to go out of the house," said Bispo.
So while they continue to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families, knowing the vaccine for them is on the horizon gives them peace of mind.
“We’ll feel a lot safer a little bit more calmer and maybe don’t have to worry so much about working with other people as well," said Lopez.
For Nguyen, after much uncertainty since the start of the pandemic, this long-awaited moment of getting the vaccine is a light at the end of this long tunnel.
“I’m just excited to be in phase one so that I can get the vaccine and make sure that I’m safe so that I’m not putting my patients in danger," said Nguyen.
While precautions like PPE and good hygiene have helped to keep these essential workers safe, the vaccine is the extra dose of protection.