DAPHNE – A countywide COVID-19 vaccination effort will start Tuesday in Daphne for eligible recipients.
The program will be held Tuesdays and Thursday, Jan. 19, 21, 26 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The vaccinations will be free and will be given to first-responders, including law enforcement and firefighters, and anyone 75 or older, Jenny Kilpatrick, coordinator of health care services for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said Thursday, Jan. 14.
The ADPH, Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency and city of Daphne are conducting the clinics, organizers said.
Kilpatrick said the goal is to give about 60 vaccinations an hour, or about 700 shots a week, during the two-week clinic.
“We could not be more excited and pleased,” she said. “A light at the end of the tunnel is the perfect analogy for this. This has been a tremendously difficult year and again, we could not be more excited and pleased to be able to ramp this up and get this vaccination effort going.”
Zach Hood, Baldwin County EMA director, said county and city officials and volunteers will be helping with the effort.
“This is a sign of hope that we have been looking for. Baldwin EMA has stood ready since Day 1 of the COVID-19 response and we have been in coordination and contact with the Alabama Department of Public Health consistently,” Hood said. “Our question that we ask is how can we help. How can we be a part of a solution? And the answer is to assist with the mass vaccination programs once the vaccinations became available. We have finally reached that stage and we will be assisting the Alabama Department of Public Health in their vaccination distribution. We are very grateful for our partnership with the city of Daphne. Without the city of Daphne and them supporting our efforts, our operation would be almost impossible.”
Daphne Mayor Robin LeJeune said organizers expect a heavy turnout for the clinic. He said participants can begin arriving at 6:30 a.m. to receive information packets and be assigned a time for their vaccination. No appointments can be made in advance. The gates to the Civic Center parking lot will not open before 6:30 and no parking will be allowed on the streets outside the facility, he said.
“Just be patient with us,” LeJeune said. “We will be working hard. Our staff is going to be working hard with a lot of people directing traffic.”
When participants arrive at their assigned time, they should bring their completed paperwork and identification into the Civic Center for their vaccination. Participants who cannot walk to the Civic Center will receive vaccinations in their vehicles, Kilpatrick said.
Kilpatrick said only people who meet the eligibility requirements will receive vaccinations. Organizers said Thursday, Jan. 14, that some residents have already called the city of Daphne or arrived at the Civic Center in an effort to be vaccinated.
Hood said vaccination programs will continue in other areas of Baldwin until all residents who want the shots receive them.
“We can all expect that vaccinations will carry out through the first part of this year,” Hood said. “We know that this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint and we are asking for community compassion.”
Hood said hospitals will also continue to administer vaccines.
“As we navigate through these difficult times, we are certainly welcome and happy that the vaccination program will be here in Baldwin County and we want you to remember that this will not be the only means of getting a vaccination within our county,” Hood said. “In addition to the operation in the Daphne Civic Center, our hospitals are working around the clock to not only conduct patient care, but to also distribute vaccinations to eligible individuals. At our hospitals, they are accepting appointments currently and we do recommend that you utilize those outlets if it is best for you.”
The vaccine administered in the Daphne Civic Center is the Moderna vaccine, which requires two doses that are given 28 days apart. People receiving their first dose will be given a date and time to return for the second shot, Kilpatrick said.
She said test found the vaccine to be safe, but the shots have had some side effects. Side effects include pain, swelling and redness where the shot was given and chills, tiredness and headaches. Participants will be monitored for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccinations, she said.
She said anyone with questions should call the Alabama Department of Public Health COVID-19 hotline at 1-800-270-7268 or go to the ADPH website, alabamapublichealth.gov.