District COVID vaccination site serves 1,000 on first day

CHIPLEY – The Washington-Holmes District COVID Vaccination Site began operations Wednesday, March 3, with about 1,000 local residents receiving the vaccine.

The site, located at the old industrial park at 654 Pecan Street, was a joint effort of Holmes and Washington County officials.

Washington County Board of County Commissioners Chair Tray Hawkins said having district site serving both counties simply made sense. He approached Sandy Martin, Interim Administrator for Department of Health in Holmes and Washington Counties with the idea in January.

“We reached out to the health department after Washington County held its first round of vaccinations,” said Hawkins. “It was a walk-up that had elderly people standing in the cold on the sidewalk, and then the one in Holmes County seemed dangerous because there were hundreds of people on the side of the road on Highway 90. Neither county had the ideal scenario.”

From there, Hawkins and Martin worked with the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners (HCBOCC), Emergency Operations Centers from both counties, Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Chipley Police Chief Scott Thompson, and other first responders to coordinate issues such as traffic maintenance.

Traffic is set up to enter the center off Pecan Street, onto Industrial Park Rd. and then exit onto the Campbellton Highway.

HCBOCC Chair Clint Erickson says the facility makes the vaccines more accessible to the public.

“It’s been good working with the DOH and Washington County,” said Erickson. “Since DOH already served both counties, it’s good that we can combine resources so that they aren’t so scattered out.”

Washington County absorbed the approximate $100,000 cost of the facility, but Hawkins states those funds will be recaptured through 100 percent reimbursement through federal COVID assistance programs.

Hawkins says he wants to assure the public that though the facility is in Washington County, the needs of Holmes County residents will be met as well.

“The first day, we gave 1,000 vaccinations, 500 each for Holmes and Washington counties,” he said. “The first day just went flawlessly. Hats off to our team, DOH, and the first responders.”

Others assisting with the project include Holmes and Washington county EMS, Wheeler and Associates, First Baptist Church, which offered use of their campus and also provided lunches to the workers, and the electrical class at Panhandle Technical College, which wired the facility at no charge.

Currently, vaccines are available for long-term care facility residents and staff, person 65 years old and older, healthcare personnel with direct patient contact, K-12 school employees 50 years of age and up, emergency responders, and those with underlying health conditions (with doctor’s note).

Vaccines are set to be offered Wednesdays and Thursdays, but DOH says the hours can be flexible.

“We will always be flexible and work to meet the needs of Holmes and Washington counties,” said DOH Nursing Program Specialist Traci Corbin. “DOH Holmes and Washington counties are thankful for everyone that contributed to the availability of the Washington-Holmes COVID Vaccination Site, and we are excited to be part of this innovative team.”

To register for an appointment, visit myvaccine.fl.gov or call 866-201-3925 for Holmes County and 866-200-3802 for Washington County.

This article originally appeared on Washington County News: District COVID vaccination site serves 1,000 on first day