Coastal Health District working to create vaccine clinic for education community

Coastal Health District working to create vaccine clinic for education community

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The director of the Coastal Health District said there is a large coordinated effort to vaccinate the education community on Saturday, March 13.

Dr. Lawton Davis said the health district is working with several partners to offer different clinics across the area using an allotment of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine. He said how many people they can vaccinate will depend on how much they receive in the shipment, but it could be anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 people in a single day with the single dose.

“There’s a possibility that one county which will remain nameless may receive a shipment today. We do expect to begin receiving it within the next couple of business days,” said Dr. Davis.

Having specific COVID-19 vaccination clinics for the education community is exciting news for Savannah-Chatham and their 5,600 employees.

“It means the world to us to be open and have students in the schools and I know it means so much to the community to be able to rebound from this past year both economically, emotionally psychologically. It just means a lot to see this happening and to know that we’re this close,” said Sheila Blanco, SCCPSS Public Information Manager.

The Coastal Health District and a number of community partners like St. Joseph’s/Candler, Memorial Health and more will help offer several vaccine clinics on March 13 for the educational community.

“We all want the teachers and other workers safe and we want our children safe and we want them in school so we’re sort of putting together a big hopefully coordinated effort to achieve that goal,” said Dr. Davis.

While they have a coordinated event planned for the 13th, Savannah-Chatham has two clinics set for Tuesday the 9th after school. The district has 5600 employees and so far more than 500 were vaccinated in phase 1a plus. A district survey showed about 50 percent who responded would get the shot and officials say they were eager to sign up for their first clinics.

“We had 250 doses available at each site those slots, those vaccination time slots filled up within an hour. So that’s 500 more employees that are at least going to have their first shot and we’re very excited about that,” said Blanco.

The clinic will be run by Coastal Care Partners and use Moderna’s vaccine. But district officials say as additional opportunities for vaccinations open up they will notify their staff.

WTOC did ask Savannah-Chatham officials if vaccine efforts would bring students back to in-person learning five days a week.

They tell us they can’t say that. While this is a step forward there are a lot of other factors like social distancing that have to be considered.

Other events are being planned, but Dr. Davis said this not only helps the education community but others in the expansion that begins Monday, March 8.

With a vaccine expansion planned for Monday, the Coastal Health District is preparing to help thousands more in our community become vaccinated against COVID-19.

While it’s a big job, it’s one they feel equip for.

Coastal Health District working to create vaccine clinic for education community

As vaccine supply increases so too does the opportunities to get a shot. From education specific clinics to a mass site coming to Chatham County, leaders say we’ll start to see numbers increase.

“I think we’ll have plenty of appointment slots available.”

With the state’s announcement to bring a mass COVID-19 vaccination site to Chatham County means an additional 1,100 doses a day for our community.

“A good way to think of it this is that having the mass vaccination site is an augmentation of the vaccine available to southeast Georgia. It is not a reallocation or a shifting of supply from any other vaccinating entity right now,” said Dr. Davis.

He says GEMA’s mass site will be in addition to the countless other clinics in our area. Meaning more shots even as vaccine eligibility expands. Locally, the health district and school systems are working to put together specific events for the educational community at night and on weekends freeing up space during the work week.

“It means that people won’t have an excuse not to be vaccinated if they are eligible and it also means that when we do the next expansion of eligibility which probably if I am reading my tea leaves correctly won’t be too far down the road. It means that people will have access to the vaccine.”

Dr. Davis believes we can move quickly though this upcoming phase and sees positive signs for the rest of us too.

“I think pretty soon pretty much anybody, I’m not sure exactly how to define pretty soon, but maybe mid-May certainly early June anybody pretty much that wants the vaccine ought to be able to get it.”

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