Springfield Mass Transit District walk-up clinic helps residents get COVID-19 vaccines

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Senior Airman Stephen Castillo gives thumbs-up signs to Pamela Herman after the end of Herman's observation period post-vaccination Thursday at a walkup clinic at the SMTD Downtown Transfer Center in Springfield. The event was the result of a partnership between SMTD and the Sangamon County Department of Public Health to deliver free COVID-19 vaccinations to the public.

The Springfield Mass Transit District’s walk-up vaccination clinic went off with few problems Thursday, helping provide Springfield residents with a quick and easy way to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Turnout for the clinic was relatively steady early in the day, with 30-35 people showing up in the first two hours. No appointments were required and people who got a vaccine also received a pair of free bus tokens to cover transportation costs. The Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were provided, with those receiving the two-shot Pfizer jab being scheduled for a follow-up clinic on May 25.

SMTD executive director Steve Schoeffel said people were outside the transfer center prior to the 9 a.m. opening of the clinic, seeking a chance to receive their shot.

"We had people showing up (at) 15 minutes to 9 (a.m.)," Schoeffel said. "We had a decent little crowd before we even started."

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SMTD operator Gabriel Roberson receives a COVID-19 vaccine from Sgt. Reilly Gallagher of the 709th Area Support Medical Company during the free walkup clinic hosted Thursday by SMTD in partnership with the Sangamon County Department of Public Health at the SMTD Downtown Transfer Center in Springfield.

With help from the Sangamon County Department of Public Health, the clinic was intended to be a way to help people who may have been reluctant to receive the vaccine. While getting people vaccinated and protected against COVID-19 was a primary goal of the clinic, it also helped to boost SMTD’s mission of serving underserved communities through convenient transportation. Schoeffel said officials were proud to not only provide people with the vaccine, but to make it easy as possible to do so.

"We’re really happy to do that (provide the vaccine)," Schoeffel said. "This was just one way that we thought we could give it a try and see if it was utilized and be a good idea."

More:Mass COVID-19 vaccination site for college students set for Illinois State Fairgrounds

For those who made the voyage over to the transfer center, they were happy to get their vaccine, no matter what brand it came from. But for those who were working the event, like Illinois National Guard Tech Sgt. Chris Johnson, it was about doing his duty to serve the community.

An overcast sky didn't stop local residents from receiving free COVID-19 vaccinations at Thursday's walk-up clinic at the SMTD Downtown Transfer Center in Springfield.

"For each person, it’s a personal choice," Johnson said. "We don’t force it on anybody. Even though we are here for them, if they want it, we encourage them to come on down. For some people, it’s more of a ‘when do they want to get it’ versus if they want to get it."

Clinics like SMTD’s may become more vital in the coming weeks, as COVID-19 vaccinations slow down across the state. While more than 9 million people have received a vaccine, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that the seven-day average of vaccinations fell below 100,000 to 97,434, the lowest seven-day average for the state since March 26. IDPH reported that 107,689 vaccinations were administered Thursday, with 3,966,970 people being fully vaccinated — 31.14% of the adult population.

Sangamon County saw 981 vaccinations Thursday, with the seven-day average ticking down again to 865 per day. The county reported 71,327 people had been fully vaccinated, representing 36.51% of the population.

The state’s positivity rate continued to shrink Thursday, with 3,394 new cases reported by IDPH with 38 new deaths. The case positivity rate fell to 4%, the lowest for the state since March 31, with the rate as a percentage of total tests remaining steady at 3.5%.

Sangamon County reported 39 new cases and two new deaths, both women in their 60s. One tested positive on Nov. 23 and the other tested positive April 25. Menard County saw four new cases and no additional deaths.

via The State Journal-Register

April 29, 2021 at 05:19PM

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