The Gardner-Hawks Center on the former Dana College campus became a hub of activity Thursday as Washington County residents lined up to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination.
This was the second vaccination clinic held by Memorial Community Hospital and Health System (MCH) on the former college campus after the previous week's clinic was canceled due to a delay in receiving the vaccines. It was also the largest.
“By the end of today, we will have done 665 doses, MCH president and CEO Manny Banner said Thursday morning. The hospital received extra doses of the Moderna vaccine from the Three Rivers Public Health Department.
The clinic was split into two sessions — morning and afternoon. A separate clinic was also held at the hospital for those individuals receiving their second dose.
MCH began holding weekly vaccination clinics Feb. 4. Banner said the hospital receives a list from the health department to schedule appointments. The list is based on the stage the health department is in, which is currently people 65 and older.
Hospital staff call those on the list to notify them of their appointment. Messages are left for those who do not answer.
“During the call, when they get scheduled, they are asked screening questions so we already have that paper filled out when they get here, which is really nice and it cuts down on the waiting time,” Banner said.
As people arrived Thursday, they were directed to the appropriate line based on their last name and given a clipboard with information. After answering a few more questions, they were brought into the gym to receive their shot.
Once the vaccine was administered, individuals had to wait 15 minutes before being sent on their way.
Banner said they have seen very few reactions to the vaccine at the time of the shot.
“People have had the usual fever, achiness, those kinds of things after, but immediately after there really hasn't been anything,” she said. “I think some that we might have seen might be more related to anxiety.”
Those getting the vaccine were excited and eager to roll up their sleeves.
“My mother is 89 and my mother-in-law is 90. That's the main reason (we're getting the vaccine), so we can see them again,” Blair resident Linda Ryan said.
Dan Baker chose to get the vaccine for health reasons. He's kept himself isolated for much of the last year.
“I hardly get out,” the Blair resident said.
His wife, Joy, who is not yet eligible, came along for support. Once she is able, Joy said she'll also get the vaccine.
“A lot of people question about getting this … We had the polio vaccine, so we feel that it's safe,” she said.
Banner was pleased with how the clinics have operated. Hospital staff, including administrators, have stepped up to ensure they run smoothly.
“I just love that everyone is jumping in,” said Banner, who has also stepped in to administer vaccines.
The use of the Gardner-Hawks Center has also been beneficial.
“This has worked out great. I'm so thankful we can come up here. It's just easier to keep people socially distanced here,” she said.