Pine Bluff — Jefferson County is ground zero for COVID-19 in the state, and for the first time in Pine Bluff, Jefferson Regional Medical Center was able to give a vaccine to people ages 70 years and older.
Erin Bolton with JRMC said on Wednesday, health care workers provided Pfizer vaccines to the public as a community vaccine clinic at First Baptist Church in Pine Bluff.
According to Bolton, two weeks ago JRMC began a waiting list by taking phone calls and setting up an appointment to receive the vaccine from their website. She said out of the 3,500 people on that waiting list, 1,900 were ages 70 years and older.
Bolton said they are encouraging this group of Arkansans to get vaccinated and hope to provide a vaccine to 400 people on their first day of vaccinations.
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington was one of the residents of Jefferson County who participated in getting vaccinated. She said urges everyone who can receive a COVID-19 vaccine should take advantage of this opportunity.
“I just think it’s so very important that on every front of every situation we have to lead by example. I’m glad you’re here so that this can be shared with the rest of the community at large. I do embrace this vaccine because I think it’s the best route to bringing this virus to an end,” Washington said.
According to JRMC, they originally had hoped to begin vaccinations last week. Officials say they were not aware of how many doses of the vaccine they would receive from the state until last Friday.
“We did not receive any additional doses after the first doses that we got for our healthcare workers until Monday of this week,” Bolton said. “We were on the list, we requested vaccines, but we didn’t know until last Friday, how many doses we were getting and when it would be here so that we can put this clinic together.”
Bolton said they currently have 2,000 Pfizer doses available, vaccinating 60 people per hour. According to Bolton, she believes those who are taking the vaccine are taking a step to a normal sense of life.
“We gave over 800 first doses to our health care workers, we had only one who had a really bad adverse reaction. I’m proof, I’ve had two vaccines and didn’t have any issues or problems with it. it’s just the first step we can take to get back to somewhat normal life,” Bolton said.
Two Jefferson County residents who also received a Pfizer vaccine on Wednesday were 75-year-old Carrie Hollingsworth and her husband. She said one of the motivating factors for taking a Pfizer vaccine is the opportunity to soon spend time with loved ones.
“Feel more confident about everything that’s for sure, and maybe I might be able to visit some of my friends,” Hollingworth said.
Bolton said they are still welcoming first responders, teachers, or healthcare workers who have not received a Pfizer vaccine. She said they will be providing vaccines at First Baptist Church on Wednesday and Friday of this week, and next Tuesday, they will be located at White Hall Community Center.
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