Online Originals: No appointment needed at Bertie County vaccine event

North Carolina

WINDSOR, N.C. (WNCT) – Bertie High School was host to a COVID vaccination event on Wednesday, with no appointments needed.

“A small percentage of our population has access to internet,” said Mitchell Cooper, the director of Emergency Services for Bertie County. “So the majority of our population needs to be able to be reached by … we use a robocall system and word of mouth through our faith-based communities to spread the word to our population of 65 and older. So we do it that way so we can make sure to get those targets hit because they don’t have access to social media to register.”

Wednesday’s event was coordinated by eight different offices, including government departments and schools. Cooper said this event drew people from across Eastern North Carolina.  

“Our health department is an eight-county region,” Cooper said.

Workers plan to give up to 1,000 vaccines a day, as long as they get enough doses from the state. For the week of Jan. 18, Bertie County’s 1,700 vaccine doses were gone in two days.   

Ryan Jernigan is a student nurse giving vaccinations. He said he feels as if he’s a part of history.  

“It’s honestly an honor. You probably will never have this opportunity again … and to do this, yeah it’s pretty cool,” he said.

Jernigan said he’s seen the pandemic from all angles. 

“I work in the emergency department. So I see both sides, and I can officially say I’ve helped on both sides, like preventing it and taking care of the people,”  he said.

This front-line worker is enthusiastic and passionate about his job, even during the most difficult points of the pandemic.

“The best part? You get to leave your thumbprint on people,” Jernigan said. “The other day, a lady came into the emergency room and she had an IV, and that’s something so small I did to her, and the praise you get afterward,” he says.

Jernigan got his second dose of the Moderna vaccine Tuesday. 

“Yeah I had a little symptoms, but it’s nothing Tylenol and Motrin couldn’t knock out,” he said.

Cooper said that’s a common question — how will the shot make someone feel? 

“And you know the common comment to that is that it’s going to feel like the flu shot,” Cooper said. “Most of EMS staff and healthcare staff in Bertie County have already had it. We’ve had it for two weeks now and we’ve done very well with it.

“Most of our common symptoms have been in the first 24 hours, they may get feverish or feel like you do after a flu shot, and after 24 hours their back up and 100% and going,”  Cooper said.

After a patient gets their shot, they’re observed for about 15 minutes to see if there are any side effects. They also get to chat with Bertie County EMS Worker Carlene Rasco. 

She said adverse reactions aren’t common. 

“Well today I haven’t but when I was out Friday, maybe two or three, but it was just a short while that’s it,” she said.

Overall, Rasco said teamwork between the different departments is keeping this effort going.  

“This is great, you’re on point, everything is in order, and everything is done efficiently,” Rasco said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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