Mass vaccination site to open next week

Workers set up the drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site in the old Sears parking lot at Arbor Place Mall on Wednesday. Cobb & Douglas Public Health Assistant Director Lisa Crossman said the site will open next week.

The wait is almost over.

Douglas County officials announced that the new Cobb & Douglas Public Health mass vaccination site will open next week at Arbor Place Mall.

CDPH Assistant Director Lisa Crossman made the announcement about the mass vaccination site during county Commission Chairman Romona Jackson Jones’ virtual Town Hall Meeting Thursday evening.

Crossman didn’t provide an exact day next week when the site will open.

“I’m sure this is what everybody has been waiting to hear,” Crossman said while making the announcement.

The drive-thru was set up last week in the parking lot of the old Sears building at the mall. Sears closed in 2019 leaving the building and lot vacant.

Crossman said the site will be open six days a week by appointment only.

Jones announced at a BOC meeting earlier this month the site would be at the mall.

CDPH officials previously they would like to administer about 800 shots per day. But Crossman didn’t give a target number during her presentation at the Town Hall Meeting.

As of Thursday, Crossman said that almost 3,000 vaccines had been administered at the Douglas County Health Department location on Selman Drive since the COVID-19 vaccination became available.

“We are like kids before Christmas waiting for more vaccines,” Crossman said. “We are hoping that more vaccines are on the horizon. Depending on how many vaccines come into the state will determine how soon we move on to the next phase.”

Georgia remains in Phase 1A+ of the vaccine distribution which includes health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, citizens 65 and older and first responders.

Phase 1B is next and includes people the state classifies as “essential workers” who perform jobs “across critical infrastructure sectors” including teachers.

In conjunction with the Douglas County School System, the CDPH did a pop-up drive through with school nurses for employees that were at least 65-year-old last month.

There were about 200 shots administered. The employees will get their second dose Saturday.

During a seniors event at the Lithia Springs Senior Center, CDPH administered 200 shots.

“We are hoping that the March and April doses will increase,” CDPH Director Dr. Janet Memark said. “We have been scrambling to get the second dosage.”

Memark said there is some concern about the new variant that has made its way into the county.

She said citizens should remain vigilant and continue practicing safety guidelines even after they have been vaccinated.

“Please don’t give up now,” Memark said. “We can’t go back to the normal prematurely.”

Wellstar Douglas physician Dr. Charles Craton, who serves as chair of the Douglas County Board of Health, said he is confident in the safety of the vaccines.

“Look, I had my vaccine,” he said during the hourlong Town Hall Meeting. “My mother received her second one. I had no concern of the safety of the vaccine. Please get vaccinated when your turn comes.”

Jones agreed.

“The vaccine is promising,” Jones said. “This is an ongoing process. This virus is very intelligent. We encourage all the citizens of Douglas County to take all precautions.”

Visit https://www.cobbanddouglaspublic health.com for more information about COVID-19, including tests and vaccinations.