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COVID-19 vaccine arrives locally

AHOSKIE – Hundreds of local citizens rolled up their sleeves here Wednesday as the process to immunize the public against COVID-19 got underway.

Albemarle Regional Health Services (ARHS) is hosting COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout its eight-county service area on Wednesday, Jan. 6 and Thursday, Jan. 7. Among the local clinics was one at the Ahoskie Creek Amphitheater.

Clarissa Williams, a nurse with ARHS-Hertford County, fills a syringe with the COVID-19 vaccine at Wednesday’s drive-thru clinic. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Similar to all the other clinics held Wednesday and Thursday by ARHS, the vaccine was administered only to adults, age 75 years and older, as well as to essential frontline workers. Other age groups will follow according to a vaccination plan put together by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

A long line of vehicles began to form Wednesday prior to the 9 am start at the amphitheater.

“We took notice of the number of cars already waiting and opened our clinic 15 minutes before the scheduled start,” said Val Pearce, RN, Nurse Supervisor for ARHS-Hertford County office.

The vehicles were lined in two rows upon entering the grounds of the amphitheater. Outside of that perimeter, the vehicles filled Evans Street, spilling out onto Academy Street (NC 42) with the end of the line one block deep on Camlin Street.

Buzzy Swain, a retired Ahoskie businessman, said he got in line at 8:30 a.m. Three hours later he received the vaccine.

“The wait was worth it; we’ve got to do what we can to stop this deadly virus,” Swain said.

Upon receiving the vaccine, individuals were instructed to drive a short distance and park. There they were each observed for 15 minutes to ensure there was no adverse reaction to the vaccine.

“Hertford County EMT’s and other medical staff helped us with that stage of the vaccine process,” Pearce said.

She also commended local law enforcement for their presence at the clinic to ensure that the event was carried out in an orderly fashion.

Other ARHS-Hertford County staff members were present to handle documentation of those receiving the shots and loading the syringes with the vaccine for Pearce to administer.

A second vaccination clinic is scheduled today (Thursday) from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the same location.

Other local clinics, hosted by ARHS, will be held at the same time at the Bertie County Health Department in Windsor and at the Gates County Health Department located on Medical Center Road.

Drivers/passengers in these vehicles patiently wait their turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during Wednesday’s clinic held at the Ahoskie Creek Amphitheater. The long line of vehicles stretched all the way out to Academy Street (NC 42) as well as on to a portion of Camlin Street. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

The vaccine is administered in two doses. Those receiving their first shot are given a card that details when the second dose is due. It takes from one to two weeks following the second dose to be considered fully vaccinated.

ARHS will be scheduling additional drive thru clinics to accommodate the needs across the region, according to Amy Underhill, Healthy Communities Coordinator and Public Health Education Supervisor at ARHS.

She said ARHS is using both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

“We anticipate weekly vaccine allocations from the state, but those numbers are not known in advance as they are dependent on allocations at the federal level,” Underhill said.

“We are very pleased with the turnout for vaccines across the district. We are very thankful to our community members for showing up and for the support our partnering agencies have provided,” she added.

Vaccinated persons should continue to follow all guidance including:

Wearing a mask

Staying at least 6 ft. away from others

Avoiding crowds

Washing hands often

Following CDC Travel Guidance

Following isolation guidance if sick

Following quarantine guidance if exposed

Following workplace and school guidance if applicable.

For additional information about the COVID-19 vaccine, contact your local health department.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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