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Home country: US
Current location: Portland OR
Member since: Wed May 17, 2017, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 7,220

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Scenes from a mass COVID vaccination site (volunteer's perspective)

Most vaccinations are happening at convention centers in my state, so several of the largest healthcare providers have banded together to figure out the scheduling and logistics at mass vaccination sites. It's an "all hands on deck" situation. Think about what's needed besides injectors when you have thousands of people to vaccinate every day: There are screeners, greeters, mobility assistants, interpreters, logistical help...you name it, we're there doing it. I took a few days from my regular job to help. Here's what I experienced:

Most people were absolutely thrilled to be getting their vaccinations. Many were afraid, anxious, and/or overwhelmed to suddenly go from not seeing anyone for a whole year, to being around literally hundreds of people (something I could also relate to). A few took their frustration and fear out on the very people who were there to help them. We tried to put ourselves in their shoes, and helped move them through as quickly and cheerfully as we could. I could see how scared many of them were, their hands shaking as they handed their appointment information over. Many people thanked us kindly for being there and helping them.

Everyone wore masks (as is the law in Oregon). A few wore scarves or otherwise inappropriate masks, but they all complied when we gave them a proper mask to wear. Many wore double masks and/or face shields.

The worst person I saw was an RN(!) who refused to answer the three health screening questions, and barked "NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!" at me in a snotty tone when I tried again. I told her that I really wanted her father to get his vaccination, so we needed to follow the process to keep things moving. She wouldn't back down, and eventually she was asked by other staff to leave. There were about a hundred people in line by then, and only 10 screeners. We shook it off and kept things moving.

I was amazed and honored to see hundreds of other health plan volunteers, some staying an extra shift when a snowstorm kept other volunteers home that day, all going out of their way to get our fellow Oregonians the vaccines they need (even though some of us hadn't gotten our own vaccines yet).

My favorite experience was a woman wearing a "proud grandma" mask. She told me her granddaughter would turn a year old the next day. Then she started to cry, and it dawned on me that she'd probably never been able to visit the child, or hold her. "You're almost there! You're doing the right thing!", I said cheerfully and helped her to get to where she needed to go.

My takeaway is that things are ramping up fast, and we're getting much better at this mass vaccination thing. I would also ask that when you get your vaccination, please be kind to the people who are there to help you.
Posted by flibbitygiblets | Thu Feb 11, 2021, 10:12 PM (9 replies)
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