Walk-through COVID vaccine clinic opening at the Savannah Civic Center

Updated: Mar. 31, 2021 at 3:43 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - While the demand for testing has changed, the Savannah Civic Center remains a place committed to combat COVID-19.

A new vaccine clinic opened Wednesday and this one offers something new. Not only is it centrally located in downtown Savannah, but it is also a walk-through clinic.

The Civic Center has been a busy place during the pandemic – first serving as a COVID testing site and now as a vaccination site. Both of those are now happening in conjunction.

“This site is perfect for a variety of reasons. First of all, we have walk up access, everybody knows where the Savannah Civic Center is and we will make sure that vaccines are convenient and accessible to those without personal transportation,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said.

Community leaders say this new vaccine site is a big win for the community. It will open officially starting April 7 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and be able to do about 1,100 shots a day. Leaders say appointments are strongly encouraged, but not required.

Gabrielle HInz, a SCAD student, got her Moderna shot Wednesday and says it was quick.

“I was actually quite shocked that it was so easy because I am from Florida and I was having a lot of trouble finding it down there and this is only my second week here and I was able to come right in and I was so happy and my mother was so excited for me, too,” Hinz said.

It’s all possible thanks to a special partnership between Hospice Savannah, Gulfstream, Savannah Tech and the city. While the site is open to all, leaders say it also helps them specifically address the homeless population who will be bused in to get a Johnson & Johnson shot.

“That’s what we’re trying to do is to make this easy and take down any barrier. The barrier of fear, the barrier of distrust the barrier of what am I supposed to bring. I do not have a license; I don’t have an address. You do not need any of that all you need to do is be willing and desire a vaccine to get safe. It’s as simple as that,” Hospice Savannah President and CEO Dr. Kathleen Benton said.

COVID testing will continue at the Civic Center while the vaccine clinic is up and running, it will just be walk-through as well. Leaders say they have several safety precautions in place to make this happen.

Leaders say these vaccines are pivotal, but unless they go into arms, they are no good. Congressman Buddy Carter urges people to sign up.

“What we’ve done is simply cut bureaucratic red tape and that’s what has speed the process up. It’s still safe, it’s still effective. I’m proof of that as I say I got the vaccine myself in the clinical trials, so I want to encourage everyone to do that,” Rep. Carter said.

Here giving shots are also Savannah Tech students. Dr. Kathy Love, the president, made a commitment today to those who graduated virtually that if they, their family, and friends will get vaccinated they will have the grandest graduation ceremony yet at the Civic Center.

The mayor is asking everyone who gets their shot to take and post a photo using #VaxUpSavannah and #SavannahStrong to help spread the message.

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