Pooler Senior Living residents vaccinated after hesitancy questions answered

Pooler Senior Living residents vaccinated after hesitancy questions answered

POOLER, Ga. (WTOC) - Nearly one hundred seniors in Pooler were vaccinated at a pop-up vaccine clinic Tuesday.

The idea for the clinic started about a week ago when a Pinewood Village Senior Living employee, Cynthia Utterbach, was getting her shot. She expressed concern about how her residents had trouble getting appointments and how it would be nice to work something out.

Next thing she knew public health leaders were coordinating with J.C. Lewis to bring a clinic to the residents of Pinewood Village and beyond.

“This sort of cuts through the frustration and it’s just wonderful to see them go in and come out with these smiles on their faces,” said Utterbach, a senior advocate.

“We’re trying to do our part in making sure our seniors are safe,” said Kim George, Property Manager at Pinewood Village Senior Living.

Senior residents in Pooler got a special visit from J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care Center to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. For some it was a no brainer to get their shot.

“It was very easy because that was my main concern is I haven’t seen any of my family since March,” said Ella Tassell who was vaccinated Tuesday. “I knew that was the only way I was going to be able to see them.”

But others were hesitant to get the shot.

“Well for me I said, I’m not going to get it,” recalled Jacqueline Manigo of Pooler. “I don’t want nothing to happen and then after you know talking to different people. My girls got the shot then I decided to go ahead and go on and get it.”

Cynthia Utterbach, Pinewood’s senior advocate, says a lot of their residents feared the vaccine was developed too quickly and didn’t want to sign up, but one thing changed their minds.

“It was a lot of mistrust, distrust and it took some convincing,” said Utterbach. “The thing that convinced them was Dawn Baker.”

She says residents watched her journey and wanted to same shot, so Tuesday they got it. The first dose of Moderna’s vaccine just like Dawn had in the trial.

“Because of her courage and tenacity you had people that are here today,” said Utterbach. “You know I think that is powerful... You know she is like a role model for some 80 and 90 year old’s up in here.”

Dawn showed up at the clinic to greet the residents who followed in her shoes. Of course, they were glad to see her and they left feeling grateful for the hope of the vaccine they just got.

“I feel real good about it because if you trust in God and everything He will bring us through this thing,” said Marion Manigo, who was vaccinated Tuesday at the clinic.

City leaders also came out and say while it’s great to see so many coming together to help the most vulnerable, we can’t stop now.

“Continue to wear the mask, wash your hands often and we will get through this,” said Thomas Hutcherson, Pooler Mayor Pro tem.

Event organizers say J.C. Lewis will return for a second clinic to give resident their second dose of the vaccine.

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