Hundreds receive COVID-19 vaccine at Warren County drive-thru site
Warren County’s first drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site opened Monday, with hundreds getting their first dose of the vaccine and hundreds more scheduled to get it this week.
“It feels great and a relief to be out here, get the vaccine and beat the virus,” said Roger Holdiness, who along with his wife, Marie, was first in line Monday to receive the vaccine. “It feels really good because we did not know what we were going to do for a while.”
Roger and Marie were among 400 people to get their first dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. The drive-thru site will continue with a reported 400 more appointments on Wednesday and 400 more Friday. It is expected that the Mississippi State Department of Health will open up more appointments for the Warren County site soon, but officials are not sure when, or how many.
At this time, all appointments have been filled, but the Mississippi State Department of Health will be adding appointments for next week.
To receive an appointment, residents are asked to routinely visit covidvaccine.umc.edu.
Monday was the first day for the vaccination site, which is set up in the back parking lot of Uptown Vicksburg (formerly Vicksburg Mall). Vaccinations were scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., but eager recipients had arrived as early as 7 a.m.
The Holdinesses were driven to the site by their sister-in-law, Omega, who had already received one dose of the vaccine. She not only drove them Monday but helped them register for the appointment online.
“Once they (the Mississippi State Department of Health) posted it, I got it fairly quickly,” Omega said. “But I spent hours with my phone in my hands just refreshing the site until Warren County popped up.”
For Warren County Emergency Management Agency John Elfer, Monday’s appointments were the culmination of weeks of work and lobbying by local officials to get a vaccination site located in Warren County.
“It was a team effort. A lot of people worked together to make this happen,” Elfer said.
The site, which is managed by the Mississippi State Department of Health, was supported by volunteer medical officials organized by the Warren County EMA. The Vicksburg Police Department, Vicksburg Fire Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Warren County Fire also supported the site. The Mississippi Air National Guard also provided support.
“We couldn’t have pulled this off had we not gotten the volunteers,” Elfer said of the nurses who volunteered to help administer the vaccine. “That was the arrangement, the health department said, ‘You get the nurses and we will send you the vaccine.’”
Monday, 10 local nurses were on site to help.
One of those who volunteered was Kim Barnes, a nurse at Mission Primary. She said this was personal for her.
“I lost my mother-in-law to the virus in May. She went to the emergency room on Mother’s Day weekend and spent nine days at River Region and passed away,” Barnes said. “You can’t get more personal than that than a doctor and a nurse losing a mother.”
Barnes’ husband, Rusty, is a doctor at Mission Primary.
When there was an outbreak at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station last summer, Barnes said, they saw a lot of men who were working the outage. Because many of the Grand Gulf employees were from out of state and away from their families, it became more personal since the doctors and nurses would continually check on their progress.
“We saw 50-year-old men, healthy enough to work seven days a week, getting very ill,” she said. “We had to keep calling them and staying in contact because they were here, without their families, working an outage. Dealing with them, and seeing how sick they got and how needy they were, really touched us.”
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