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West Point receives COVID-19 vaccine

WEST POINT — On Friday morning, a total of 300 West Point area residents received the first of two vaccinations they will need to be protected from COVID-19. The vaccinations were administered by Troup County registered nurses in a drive-through point of distribution (POD) event at the West Point Technology Center.

“We are so pleased for public health nurses to be with us in West Point today,” said Mayor Steve Tramell. “We have a lot of seniors being vaccinated today. In many cases, it’s difficult for them to travel out of town to be vaccinated. It’s a good thing we were able to have this POD here in West Point today, and we appreciate Troup County public health for coming here.”

Leslie Leonard, the nurse manager for District 4 Public Health, said that POD events had been an effective way of getting people vaccinated. To be eligible, a person must be a Georgia resident who is at least 65 years of age, a front line healthcare worker or caregiver or a first responder such as a police officer, firefighter or paramedic. They have to apply in advance and be on the list when they arrive. Those who are eligible can get on the list by calling (762) 888-8180 or go to district4health.org and apply.

Three of the nurses administering the vaccines work for the Troup County Health Department. The fourth nurse works for the State Public Health Department. She lives in LaGrange and volunteered to take part in the event.

“We are thankful to have had West Point police officers and firefighters here today directing traffic through to the end of the line,” Leonard said. “They handled the hard part. The vaccinations were easy. The people coming through have been very cooperative. They wanted to be vaccinated. We will be back here on March 12 for the second dose they will need.”

Meticulous records were kept for each person being vaccinated. Such details as whether the vaccination was injected in the left arm or right arm were kept. That’s an important detail to know when the second dose is administered next month.

The vaccine going into the arms of the West Point residents is the one manufactured by Moderna. It doesn’t have the deep freezing requirements of the Pfizer vaccine, which was the first one approved for use.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently seeking approval by the FDA and will require only one dose.

Public health officials are hopeful that more than 300 million Americans will have been fully vaccinated by late summer. There’s broad agreement that widespread vaccination is the way to get past COVID.

Leonard was complimentary of West Point police, firefighters and EMTs being well prepared for Friday’s POD. 

“The first responders in West Point are very well trained, and citizens should be pleased with that,” she said. “I’ve been here before to take part in training drills in which there’s a mock disaster requiring city officials and first responders to be vaccinated under emergency conditions.”

West Point was the first city in Troup County to have such training.

Such drills, said Fire & EMS Chief Mitt Smith, are designed for first responders and public health professionals to have experience in working together under emergency conditions such as an anthrax exposure. When put into actual practice, this emergency response would keep a city operating.

Friday’s POD went smoothly. From the time the person to be vaccinated arrived, the entire procedure took an estimated half hour. It took around 15 minutes of waiting in line to get to the area where the vaccinations were taking place. Those who had been vaccinated were asked to remain for 15 minutes in case of an allergic reaction, which is very rare.

On Tuesday, the nurses will be vaccinating people in Hogansville. On Feb. 15 and Feb. 19 they will be doing vaccinations at the Business Barn, located at 100 North Davis Road in LaGrange. Appointments are necessary to come to any of these PODs. Any Troup County resident who is slotted in advance will be vaccinated. Anyone who is 65 or older, a first responder or caregiver is eligible.

Everyone who came through the line on Friday received a card noting the date and time of their first dose. Also listed was the date and time of their second dose, which will be at the same place on March 12.

Leonard said that it sometimes takes a long time for calls to be answered. 

“Just be patient,” she said. “For us to vaccinate you, you have to have an appointment. Don’t give up if the call takes a long time. It will be worth your wait to be vaccinated.”