“I was very impressed with the way everything was organized. There were no problems at all. We were prepared to wait, so we got here a little early. And we’re out of here actually three minutes before we were supposed to be here for our appointment,” said Bill Wright, who along with his wife, Kathryn, were among those who received first doses of Covid-19.
The recent mass vaccination event held at the Malcom Center on the Missouri Valley College campus proved that good things happen when careful attention to detail and community collaboration occur. The event was organized by Fitzgibbon Hospital and the Saline County Health Department, with an emergency response presence by representatives from the Saline County Ambulance District. It was the first of what is expected to be a series of events vaccinating hundreds of people in a single day. Over the two days of Jan. 28 and 29, a total of 561 individuals received their first dose of Pfizer-manufactured Covid-19 vaccine. Fitzgibbon held a third event injecting 211 first doses of Moderna vaccine on Monday, Feb. 1. So the three-day total of public vaccinations was 772.
In an effort to minimize long waits and ensure a good experience, all vaccines are being provided via advance appointment only.
“I thought it was well-organized. I thought people were very friendly, knew what they were doing and took genuine care of everybody that walked through the door,” added Ken Lewellen of Marshall, while he was waiting during the mandatory 15-minute, post-vaccine observation period.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, the Saline County Health Department has always thought, ‘we’re better together,’ and this event has proven that. Together we were able to produce a successful event,’” said Administrator Tara Brewer of the local public health agency which obtained the doses administered on Thursday and Friday.
And while long waits in the cold were the highlight of news coverage in some metro areas last week, there were no such problems in Marshall. Representatives from Missouri Valley College assisted with parking and helping those who needed assistance to get from their cars to awaiting wheelchairs.
“I think from what I see on TV they need to get some Marshall people to come to the big city to show them how to run things,” commented Gladys Pointer in a post-vaccine ‘thank-you’ note, adding that she will be 92 years old in six weeks and still drives. She added that she really appreciated the assistance she had as she made her way around the gymnasium.
“Marshall (Krause) and I thought our experience at the vaccine clinic was wonderful. From the time you pulled into the driveway and parked, there were people to assist - all through the different stations. The nurses giving shots were wonderful, the service was wonderful and even the guy offering refreshments. We are so appreciate of this event. It was so nice,” said Pat Anglen Krause of Marshall, who added she felt a sense of relief after having received her first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
A key to the event’s success was the accessibility of the host site, the Malcolm Center, on the campus of Missouri Valley College, which offered plenty of space to socially distance and no stairs to navigate. The college not only provided assistance in helping folks in and out of cars, they also provided lunch to those staffing the event.
“We are glad to help Fitzgibbon Hospital and the Saline County Health Department with these events,” said Heath Morgan, PhD., Vice President of Student Affairs at Missouri Valley College. “We want to do our part in the community to help stop the spread of Covid-19.”
The overarching sentiment of everyone attending was one of relief, of hope and of brighter days ahead. One woman who was wearing a Christmas sweatshirt while filling out her paperwork commented on the reason for her wardrobe selection.
“I’m wearing this Christmas shirt because I haven’t yet gotten to celebrate Christmas with my grandchildren because of Covid. Now that I’m getting vaccinated, I hope we get to do that after I get my second shot.”
Similar thoughts and an urging for everyone to receive the vaccine were repeated throughout the day.
“I just love my community, and I think everyone should get vaccinated so we can help each other through this,” said Krause.