By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
For the last several weeks, people interested in receiving the Coronavirus Vaccine have been able to sign up and receive one of the two doses. In the beginning, the recipients were asked to visit the Tucker County Health Department and come into the facility. It quickly became evident that a more efficient and safer option had to be developed.
As Tucker County typically does, several of the entities involved with the pandemic came together and developed what has become what may be considered the most efficient vaccination clinic in practice.
Each Friday, those who signed up for the vaccines are given a one-hour window that they are to show up at the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department. As individuals arrive, they get in line by traveling on Fifth Street towards the Fire Hall where they will see Law Enforcement Officers handling traffic control and guide them to the first station. Participants will give their information to the clinic worker and they will be handed a form to fill out while they wait in line.
Every four minutes, the line will move forward and three cars will be taken at a time and guided into one of the bays where both doors usually can be closed. There are nurses, pharmacists, and other licensed professionals set up on both sides of the vehicle to access both the driver and passenger where their forms are taken and handed to another set of workers to enter into the system as the participants are given their shots. Those helping at another station then work to compile their information to put onto a card that will be given to each individual after their shot.
The doors are then lifted and they are guided into one of the three rows of three vehicles where they are held for 15 minutes to ensure no immediate effects are experienced. During this time, those who received the vaccine are checked on periodically before they are released to go about their day. Paramedics, EMTs, and Doctors are on standby in the rare occurrence that a negative reaction may occur.
When the word got out about the success of the clinics, other counties have been inquiring about the setup in attempts to apply it in their areas. The National Guard recently attended to not only work to remove names from the database who received their vaccine but also to take notes on the layout.
James Snyder with the Tucker County Health Department stated, “It works very well.” He is informed weekly by the state how many vaccines Tucker County will be allotted that week. They then proceed to call the next people on the registry to assign them a one-hour time slot to arrive. Participants mustn’t arrive early, as they will be asked to pull off to the side and wait until their time slot. They are also asked to wear something that allows easy access to the shoulder area.
Snyder said that the county allocations had decreased for a brief time as other counties were not vaccinating at the same rate, and they wanted to ensure all counties were given the same opportunities to do so. Fortunately, the number of vaccines coming to the county has since increased. Anyone ages 16 and older are now encouraged to register for the vaccine to be added to the list. Those registered will be contacted early in the week for their Friday appointment. “The community has really stepped up in a big way,” said Snyder. The list of volunteers willing to assist with the clinic exceeds the need at this time. Local businesses have also been generous enough to donate snacks and meals to the workers while working at the clinics.
Snyder stated that the vaccines are obviously working as the trend of the positive cases has decreased as the number of vaccinated individuals has increased. He suggests continuing to follow social distancing and face-covering guidelines and getting the vaccine with hopes that those mandates will soon end.
Kevin White, Chief of the Parsons VFD and Director of Office of Emergency Management, stated, “This is a great team effort with multiple entities.” The list of volunteers ranges between 30 and 40 people, which the amount needed varies on the number of allocated vaccines. White shared the list of entities involved in the vaccine clinics, which includes the Tucker County Health Department, St. George Medical Clinic, Preston Taylor-Mountain Top Clinic, Parsons VFD, Tucker County OEM, Parsons City Police Department, the City of Parsons Administration and Maintenance departments, Tucker County EMS, Tucker County 911, Tucker Family Resource Network, Leadmine CERT, and many citizen volunteers.
Some of the benefits of conducting a drive-thru style clinic he explained include minimizing the risks to everyone involved. The patients appreciate being able to stay in their vehicles, especially with colder temperatures. On Friday, March 5, approximately 400 doses were to be given with 462 administered the week prior.
The clinics will continue weekly as long as there is a desire from the public and vaccines available. “I encourage everybody 16 and up to go sign up,” added White.