By REBECCA HAZEN
Alex Case, Director of Dade County Emergency Services spoke about the COVID-19 vaccine and it’s availability during the weekly county update on Jan. 7.
“The vaccine is coming into our Department of Public Health (DPH). It started coming in the week before last,” Case said.
The first group of people to receive the vaccine were healthcare workers. Then it moved into the second phase, which is for Emergency Medical Services. This includes EMTs, paramedics and first responders.
“Nearly every call that we take into the 911 center, we ask a standard COVID question to help protect the individuals going out. Someone has either been in contact, or has had the virus. A lot of folks are recovering from this. We have to treat a lot of these calls with precaution,” Case said.
The DPH has received the Moderna vaccine. It comes frozen in a vial.
“When they take it out of the freezer to start its thawing process, it takes one hour. Half way through that hour they have to stir it or shake it. After the one hour, hopefully the first patient is there. There is a six hour window to give 10 doses from that vial” Case explained.
Vaccines are now being given to people ages 65 and older, by appointments. To make an appointment, call the DPH at (706) 657-4213.
Case said that a lot of people have said that they are calling and getting busy signals or the phone is not being answered.
It is important to note that the current DPH staff consists of four people, two nurses, a nurse manager and a receptionist.
“The nurses are really tied town with vaccines and other things coming in. The two other ladies are trying to answer the phones. They are doing the very best that they can. We ask that you be very patient with this with the limited staff that they have. There has been threatening voicemails left on the phone system. We do have caller ID, we will be looking into this,” Case said.
Sharon Bradford, who is retired from the Department of Public Health, is coming back temporarily to help answer phones.
In order to make an appointment, you must be a Dade County resident, and be 65 and older. You can make an appointment for yourself and your spouse, and any other person over 65 or caretaker for someone 65 and older in your household. You cannot make multiple appointments for other members in your family.
Do not make an appointment if you have had any other type of vaccines in the last 14 days, or if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19. You have to be 90 days free of COVID-19.
“If you call and make an appointment, please try to be here. We do not want to waste this. Once that vaccine is thawed out, it cannot be frozen back. It is wasted. We are going to be precise,” Case said.
Please arrive to your appointment five minutes early. There is a hand sanitization station right by the door. There is limited seating in the lobby, and everyone is asked to please wear a mask.
“There are hopefully vaccines for our whole population, there are just limited amounts coming in. There is only so much freezer storage space,” Case said.
Case continued, “Please continue to social distance. When I am out, I see people standing back and keeping their mask on. We appreciate it. Thanks for everything you do.”
Dade County has seen 110 cases in the past two weeks, for a total of 818 COVID-19 cases. The number of cases can be found at https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-19-daily-status-report.
According to a press release, there is now a COVID-19 vaccine locator on the DPH website at dph.georgia.gov. The locater can be used to search for vaccine providers, including county health departments and provide providers, in the community. Contact and location information is also provided for each provider.
The weekly Dade County update is broadcast live on Facebook on Thursdays at 3 p.m.