City of Columbus, DPH hold a second mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic

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For the second time in a week, the city of Columbus and the Georgia Department of Public Health has held a drive-through vaccine clinic at the Civic Center.

They gave 500 shots in about three hours – and could have done much more if they had the vaccine doses.

The goal was simple Friday morning in the Columbus Civic Center parking lot.

Shots in arms.

The city partnered with Georgia Department of Public Health.

“With the city covering the logistics, it allows us to get more vaccine out,” said Dr. Asante Hilts, an epidemiologist with the West Central Georgia Health District. “It allows us to get vaccine out faster, more efficiently. So, when we do have more vaccine available to us, we can scale this operation up and get thousands of people vaccinated instead of hundreds of people vaccinated.”

They gave 500 shots in about three hours.

The process was a snap says Tracey Saxton, who was getting the shot with her 67-year-old mother.

“Everybody knows their tasks,” Saxton said. “They are doing their tasks. And they are structured.”

When more vaccine is available, local officials are hoping that the efficiency of these clinics will put Muscogee County at the front of the line for mass events.

“I hope that we are sending the right message that we are not wasting any time,” Hilts said. “When vaccine comes to us, we are getting it out to our community. We hope that’s being shown that we can handle large quantities of the vaccine so that we can vaccinate our community efficiently.”

In addition to the two drive-through events at the Civic Center, the city and DPH, along with Piedmont Columbus Regional are combining efforts for a clinic on the Piedmont campus.

Mayor Skip Henderson tells News 3 that the city-backed efforts have administered about 12,000 does in the last four weeks.

Bill Bishop, 61, has been trying for a month to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I have been going to every site there is,” Bishop said. “Publix, pharmacies, it has been never-wracking trying to get my parents signed up. It’s been so frustrating. You get online, see there is a shot available, you enter your information, there is no shot available.”

Friday morning at the Columbus Civic Center he and both of his parents got their shots in an appointment-only clinic.

That part was easy. It was getting there that was the hard part.

“It was quite a battle,” Bishop said.

Hilts with the West Central Georgia Health District knows that. Dr. Asante Hilts/Epidemiologist West Central Georgia Health District

“I know we can do this,” she said. “What we really need right now is the support of our community to understand why the phased approach put out by the CDC and being followed by the state is important.”

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