“Good. No wait.”
That was Doris Stevenson’s quick but clear review Monday of Huntsville Hospital’s first day of a weeklong COVID-19 vaccination surge clinic. The Huntsville woman had just left a building at John Hunt Park near south Memorial Parkway where the clinic was being held.
Inside, the hall is divided in halves: vaccination and post-vaccination waiting. The vaccination room has 16 well-marked stations, and there was no waiting shortly after 11 a.m.
“It’s going great,” hospital Chief Operating Officer Jeff Samz said. “We’ll do 1,700 to 1,800 shots today. Some are second shots, about 1,500 new.”
The clinic is operating seven days a week, and Samz expects it to give up to 2,000 shots Friday. But that will drop to 500 first doses and 500 second shots Saturday when the state’s vaccination surge ends and vaccine supply shrinks.
The hospital clinic is by appointment only and opens at 7 a.m. Cars enter a line, and Huntsville police help people navigate traffic cones if necessary. Asked if there have been any issues, Samz said, “Some people are coming who don’t have an appointment, and we have to turn them away. That’s hard.”
Appointments are spaced to keep the flow steady but not crowded. Recipients are 65 years old and older, and that means walkers, wheelchairs and slow pedestrians.
Hospital employees meet each arrival. They direct them to the vaccination stations and then to the waiting to sit for 15 minutes to make sure there is no negative reaction to the vaccine.
The only odd thing about the day, Samz said, is that a lot of people wouldn’t voluntarily sit down at Station 13. So, now, the station numbers go from 12 to 14.