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Salvation Army partners with Health Department for COVID-19 vaccination drive

As Georgia opens back up from the pandemic and masks come off, normalcy seems to be returning. However, there is still the issue of vaccination. While Georgia does not have a vaccine passport program like New York has implemented, there is still a push for people to get vaccinated. This past Wednesday, the Bainbridge Salvation Army held a vaccine drive with the Decatur County Health Department from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. A total of seven people received a vaccination that day.

According to Austin Stuckey, director of the Decatur County Health Department, roughly 29% of Decatur County has been vaccinated. She put emphasis on vaccination as things reopen, saying, “I think it’s very important, especially with everyone opening back up. I think it’s gonna play a major role in being able to open up and not have that fear of COVID cases rising again.”

Salvation Army Director Merreann McDonald spoke to the Post Searchlight about getting the event set up. The Health Department first approached her in late May-early June.

“They approached us, and we just thought it would be a great opportunity,” she said. “We selected a date; Wednesday is one of our busiest days of the week and we wanted to do it during a time when there were as many migrants in town, because they’ll be departing before long.”

The Georgia Farmworker Health Program was present to help with this aspect of the drive.

When Decatur County’s vaccination numbers came up, McDonald said, “For the betterment of the community, we should all be doing our part; however, I understand it’s a personal choice for everyone to make their own decision as to what they feel is best for their health.”

There have been several side effects that accompany the vaccine, with potential heart inflammation recently being added to the list. According to Stuckey, the most common side effects listed by the CDC include redness in the injected arm, pain, chills, fever and nausea.

“Your normal, typical, kind of like a flu-like symptom is what we see mostly,” she said.

All three main vaccines (Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna) were offered at the drive, which means a second dose is needed to be fully vaccinated. When asked if the Salvation Army would hold a follow-up drive for those seeking a second shot, McDonald said, “They (the Health Department) will reach out individually to each participant, and schedule a time for them to come to the Health Department to get a second dose.”

While there currently aren’t plans for a follow-up drive, McDonald said they would support it.

“We want to do everything we can from the community perspective of providing services to people that they might otherwise not have access to,” she finished.