The sleeves are being rolled up. The shots are being administered, but there are millions more vaccines to be administered in this long wrestle with a global pandemic.
And the pace of vaccinations is frustratingly slow for many waiting for the shots.
Still, local clinics are doing what they can. Madison County’s Health Department administered 50 shots last week and 100 more on Tuesday. And Medlink in Colbert administered 110 Monday. Ingles pharmacy in Hull administered shots through Wednesday this week, about 50 a day, and is working its way through a massive waiting list that has been temporarily closed to new registrations until more vaccinations are carried out. These places have been administering the Moderna vaccine.
Elizabeth Allen, registered nurse and manager of the Madison County Health Department, said she was the only person administering the vaccine at the department last week, but more help is coming. The standard for a nurse working all day is 50 vaccinations, about one every seven minutes.
The health department is administering vaccines on Tuesdays now, but Allen says the department could begin offering them an additional day each week.
“Hopefully, in the next couple of weeks we’ll be able to open that up to another day,” she said. “Our demand is so high; we need it.
The shot administration at the department was a one-person show until this week.
“It was just me,” said Allen Monday afternoon. “But now there will be two of us tomorrow (Tuesday) and that quota is about 50 per nurse, which is basically us running from start to finish. Starting in February, I’ll have two extra nurses that are going to be helping me on Tuesdays. So next Tuesday, there will be four. So hopefully, there will be 200 (vaccines) next time. So we should have 150 to 200 every day (of administering shots).”
Allen said registration for shots is still only available for those 65 and older or public health professionals. Anyone wanting to register should visit publichealthathens.com. She said one complication is the fact that people are often registering in multiple places and then getting a shot elsewhere and not canceling their appointment with the health department. Others have registered more than once on the website.
“That’s causing some issues, those not canceling their appointments if they have already gotten them or gotten them elsewhere,” said Allen, who estimated that there are about 1,000 people on the Madison County waiting list.
Allen said the health department is getting help administering the shots, but the department also needs help with scheduling the appointments.
“A big thing is getting people to schedule for us,” she said. “So if anybody is interested in helping with the clerical side to start scheduling, definitely let us know. And we’ll do the best we can to see if we can accommodate somebody. We’re looking for volunteers and to hire.”
Madison County had four more confirmed COVID-19 deaths over the past week, bringing the total of confirmed deaths from the virus to 26, with another eight county deaths since March listed as “probable” for the virus as the cause. Since the pandemic began, Madison County has had 2,258 covid cases, with 111 hospitalizations.
The county remains in a dark red zone on the state covid map, meaning community spread is considered high. But the case rate has decreased recently. Madison County’s case rate Jan. 26 was 1,037 cases per 100,000 people over the past two weeks, which is less than the Jan. 19 rate of 1,286 or the Jan. 12 rate of 1,326.
The Madison County School System reported 27 students and seven employees positive for COVID-19 Jan. 20, with 142 students and 31 employees quarantined.
The numbers are updated every Wednesday at madison.k12.ga.us.
WORDS FROM MEDLINK
Emily Nix, Director of Marketing and Development for MedLink Georgia Inc., answered the following questions from The Journal this week:
•Have you received word on when more shipments will be delivered?
We anticipate receiving more shipments to help vaccinate our communities.
•How many people in Madison County do you have on a waiting list?
We schedule patients at every location depending upon availability. We offer other locations if it means getting people on our waiting list scheduled sooner.
•How do people get on a waiting list?
To get on the waiting list, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, phone number and date of birth. We have a team monitoring and working through all the emails as quickly as possible. If you do not have access to email, please call our Patient Service Center at 706-521-3113. Your patience is appreciated as we are experiencing an overwhelming demand to get a shot.
•Is the waiting list restricted to people 65 and up and health care professionals, or can anyone get on a waiting list?
Anyone can be placed on the waiting list. Our Patient Service Center will ask a few basic questions to determine category of need. The list is then prioritized based on the Department of Public Health's guidelines.
•Is there any other information you would like people to know?
Trisha Jones, Director of Clinical Services: “It is important that people continue to be proactive in getting their vaccines to slow the spread in our communities."
Dave Ward, MedLink Chief Executive Officer: "Our clinics are open to the general public, not just current MedLink patients. We are your Community Health Center."