SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – COVID-19 continues to affect and frighten older citizens as many who are eligible for the vaccine scramble to find someplace where they can get the shot.
Memorial Health has set up a vaccine clinic on Eisenhower Drive open three days a week. The clinic has operated for only a few days, and already more than 700 people have received the first round of the vaccine.
Tuesday, News 3 talked to 87-year-old Charles Stickels who says he has been isolating at home for months now. “We have avoided eating out in restaurants or going to entertainment of any sort really,” he said.
Because Stickels has kept so close to home, he hasn’t been that worried about exposure but says he’s still happy to have received his first shot.
“Since the shots are available, it’s only sensible to get it,” he told us.
Dr. Stephen Thacker, an expert in infectious diseases and Associate Chief Medical Officer for Memorial Health, says the facility has enough vaccines to schedule second appointments for people like Mr. Stickels.
“I think what we’re seeing along with other places providing vaccine is that everyone has been trying any way they can to get access to the vaccine, and it’s real clear there’s a large unmet need for our 65 plus population,” said Dr. Thacker.
Thacker said, for the most part, the reaction of those receiving the vaccine has been “gratitude and thankfulness.
“Which is a tremendous thing to be able to offer individuals in our community,” he added.
Sixty-eight-year-old Ann Marie Rhoads was in the waiting room after receiving her first shot. She told News 3 when she received word she had an appointment, “it was a combination of crying or screaming Hallelujah.”
Rhoads told us she has a heart condition and is grateful to have received the vaccine. She also hopes the vaccine is somehow a way back to some semblance of normality.
That would include being able to hug her grandchildren.
“You know, I have two grandchildren that are 8 and 11 that I haven’t seen in months and months and months,” Rhoads said.
She said the isolation necessary to protect herself has been difficult. “I’m a people person, so it’s just been excruciatingly hard to try to keep thinking of everybody else you know that you’re protecting by not being with big groups, but it’s so hard and so heartbreaking,” said Rhoads.
We also found 68-year-old Sonja Harris getting her first shot. She told News 3 she hopes more people, especially African Americans, get the vaccine.
“I think some are afraid of the unknown,” she said.
The Memorial Health clinic is being held Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Many appointments are filled, but some are still available and must be booked online.