As health workers rushed to ensure the new mass vaccination site on Gwinnett Place Mall was ready to receive their first patients on Friday morning, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Director Dr. Efforts to get more people vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Gwinnett Health Department is moving its vaccination efforts from its Lawrenceville clinic to the former Sears department store on the Mall. Friday was a trial run with a few hundred patients, including first aiders and teachers over 65, on a shortened schedule.
The website will step up that effort on Saturday as it is full from 8am to 6pm. Schedule and more than 1,000 patients are to be vaccinated. However, at some point it will be able to handle a lot more than that.
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“This site will be open Monday through Saturday, and in Lawrenceville we were also open Monday through Saturday doing about 1,000 (vaccinations) a day,” said Arona. “We’re doing the same amount here now and if we get more vaccine we can easily do 3,000 a day here.”
The health department offered reporters a glimpse of the mass vaccination site on Friday morning before opening it to the first patients to be vaccinated on site.
The room that used to be filled with shelves and shelves for clothes is now being converted into a check-in area, a vaccination area with several set up stations and a post-vaccination observation area. The observation area is needed because health officials need to watch patients for 15 to 30 minutes after vaccination to make sure they are not allergic to the vaccine.
Patients still have to make an appointment to be vaccinated at the new location.
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Arona commended Gwinnett County officials for working with the health department to make the old Sears location available. Although the county is in the process of buying much of the rest of the mall, the former Sears anchor is separately owned by apartment developer Northwood Ravin.
“Gwinnett County put all resources on the table to make this website available,” said Arona. “This room was empty two weeks ago and has now been converted into the bulk vaccination facility we need. As we get more vaccines, we can build it up to provide nearly 20,000 vaccines a week at this location.”
Arona said the site would not have been possible without the leadership of Gwinnett County Commission Chair Nicole Love Hendrickson, and she also thanked officials from Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District and Northwood Ravin for supporting the effort.
Hendrickson said various partners got together within three weeks, covering topics such as plan review, permits, and electrical matters to open the website.
“We saw a need, we had the resources, and we put in high gear to make sure we could meet a critical need in our community,” she said. “This website is a product of what it means when we all come together to focus on solutions that will save lives in our community.
“Gwinnett County leads the way in cases and we are number two for deaths. If we have a mass facility like this, we can get up to 3,000 vaccinations a day. That is meaningful and on behalf of the county we are proud to be a part of it Striving to save lives. ”