Hospital workers begin administering COVID-19 vaccine to police

Hospital workers begin administering COVID-19 vaccine to police

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We’ve now been vaccinating group 1A for about a month.

Some have been frustrated with the rollout and it’s speed.

Hospitals like St. Joseph’s/Candler are doing their best to make their way through the community to vaccinate not only their healthcare staff, but fire, ems and now police.

“You know you’ve got to start this process to get to the end and this is truly the beginning of it and I am so glad that we’re starting with the first responders because they are critical to this,” said Director of Health Management Melanie Willoughby.

Law enforcement lined the halls of the Savannah Police Training Center where St. Joseph’s/Candler brought a vaccine clinic to them. This is one of dozens they’ve done to help inoculate those in phase 1A.

“Quick and painless I don’t even feel, actually I felt worse after the flu shot my arm hurt worse so this is fine so far,” said Sgt. Romel Petit-Frere, Savannah Police Department.

More than 200 officers and support staff from 14 area departments signed up to be vaccinated. A big effort.

One of the first to sit in their chair was Savannah’s Police Chief Roy Minter. He says the virus has deeply impacted their operations from how they conduct business, to more than 50 of his staff having the virus.

He described today as one he’s been waiting for that’s not only exciting but also full of hope.

While the vaccine will not be mandatory for employees at Savannah Police Department Chief says right now about 50 percent of his staff is signed up to get their vaccine.

He hopes to be an example.

“I think if you look at the numbers around our community across the country around the state you can see that there are two things that are very obvious. This virus is very dangerous, this virus is very deadly and I think that this is an opportunity for us to shine a light, a ray of hope on a very dark time in a very dark period around our country and really around the world and I think it’s important now that we have this vaccine available and we’re encouraging members of my department and members of the community I think it’s important for them to see that their leader has the trust and faith and confidence in the process of the vaccine that I’m willing to step forward and also be vaccinated,” said Chief Minter.

Chief says this vaccine will help them to keep officers in the streets protecting and serving this city through the pandemic.

One sergeant said getting the vaccine was something he deeply thought about, but ultimately he felt this is an added layer of protection that will not only protect him, but his coworkers and the citizens they serve.

While the vaccine clinics run like a well-oiled machine, leaders say the planning takes attention to detail.

“The simple answer is it takes a lot of time. It’s very difficult.”

Law enforcement in line got the Pfizer vaccine which has several logistical challenges that the clinic team has to think through, but say it’s getting easier with time.

“The scheduling is critical because when you mix the vaccine you can only give so many doses and once it’s mixed it has to be given within 6 hours,” said Willoughby.

Hospital leaders work alongside the first responders to plan for these clinics and so far have given 800 shots.

Though the planning for this clinic has wrapped up, leaders say they will not only do this again Thursday for another group but are already making plans for the second dose clinic in just three weeks.

Copyright 2021 WTOC. All rights reserved.