BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Friday marked the first mass COVID-19 vaccination event for Union County, judging from the full schedule, one could label it a success.
The department of public health (DPH) controls who is eligible to receive the vaccine and individuals must sign up through the DPH website – more specifically the District 2 website. However, as of Thursday, the appointments were at full capacity and existing stock is committed as the second dose for other patients.
The state left it up to local health departments to administer the vaccines to people, which can be difficult in a small county. The people eligible to receive the vaccine greatly outnumber the nurses and DPH only allows a certain number of vaccines to each county. DPH is bringing on extra employees to help meet demand as well.
“They’re trying to do all the retirement villages, nursing homes, everything…most of our public safety personnel have already been given the opportunity to get their shot. Now that they’ve opened it up to 65 years and older, we’ve realized it’s going to take months and months to get these shots out at the rate they’re going,” Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris explained.
Fire Chief and EMA Director David Dyer and the local health department created the mass vaccination event at the new sports center.
“We’re experimenting with the logistics of making it all work,” Paris said. “We’ll have six or eight more that are going to be certified [to give shots.]”
The mass vaccination began at 8 a.m. and lasted until 8 p.m. 50 volunteers participated to help make the event a success.
“We can’t tell you when you’re going to be able to get the shot. We’re just going to the Gainesville office and saying give us as many shots as you can.”
The county has set up a link on their website to schedule an appointment for the vaccination event. They started with 150 shots on Monday and grew to 1,000 shots by Thursday.
“The way COVID-19 is spreading throughout the county…There’s no rhyme or reason to who gets it and who doesn’t,” Paris added, “It’s a serious thing, and we take it serious here at the county.”
Union County hopes to hold more mass vaccination events in the future for residents who want the shot – potentially for four consecutive weeks. However, continued vaccination events depend upon DPH sending additional medicine.
The rotary club, county employees, recreation department staff, EMA, and local health department staff all played vital roles in hosting the clinic.