By Tia Lynn Ivey
This week, Madison Mayor Fred Perriman rolled up his sleeve and received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Morgan County Health Department, which began vaccinating patients on Jan. 25, after receiving a shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
“I just want to urge our community to take the vaccine when it is available to them,” said Perriman. “I just wanted to show our community that I took it, it’s safe, and encourage everyone who can to take the vaccine to protect our community from the coronavirus.”
The Health Department, which has reserved Mondays for vaccinations only for those who qualify, is just one of Madison’s institutions that is working to meet the demand of citizens seeking the COVID-19 vaccine.
Also this week, Morgan Medical Center announced the hospital will soon open a drive-thru service at the old Morgan Memorial Hospital site on South Main Street to administer vaccine doses to people who qualify under the Phase 1A+ tier of Georgia’s vaccinations distribution plan.
“Morgan County residents and neighbors will soon have the opportunity to register to receive a COVID-19 vaccine locally. Morgan Medical Center is preparing to host a community vaccination clinic at its South Main Street campus, formerly Morgan Memorial Hospital, in Madison. Registration will be open to Georgia residents qualifying for Phase 1A+ vaccines who have not already received their first dose elsewhere,” said Megan Morris, director of development and community relations for Morgan Medical Center (MMC).
“Applicants must meet the criteria outlined by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for Phase 1A+. This group includes healthcare workers, long-term care facility staff and patients, individuals ages 65 and up and their caretakers, and law enforcement and first responders. Applicants must also verify Georgia residence. As the state moves to its next phase of vaccine distribution and more doses become available to the hospital, the application process will be amended to include additional qualifying residents.”
MMC CEO Ralph Castillo said he is excited for the drive-thru clinic to open at the old hospital site, which since 2018 has been used for a variety of healthcare needs and community projects, including outpatient clinics, training sessions and even a working hospital film set.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to our community to help protect our friends and neighbors,” said Castillo.
“We have a long history of serving the health care needs of Madison and our surrounding communities, from our early days at the South Main Street campus to our new chapter as Morgan Medical Center. Though our new building on the 441 Bypass offers wonderful amenities for our patients, we continue to maintain our previous home for health care treatments and medical appointments. It is the perfect site for our COVID-19 vaccine clinic.”
According to MMC, The main building of the old Morgan Memorial Hospital site is maintained and registered with the state as an available overflow site for treating coronavirus patients.
According to Morris, MMC will start accepting registrations for the vaccine on Feb. 17. Those who want to receive the vaccine can register online at morganmedical.org/vaccine.
“Once the hospital has its supply on site, a Morgan Medical Center staff member will contact qualifying applicants in the order in which their application was received to schedule their vaccination appointment,” explained Morris. “Though hospital employees will stage and prepare the vaccinations in the hospital building, shots will be administered in a drive-thru clinic, weather-permitting. Patients must have an appointment before arriving.”
According to Castillo, MMC does not yet know exactly how many doses of the vaccine will be allotted to the hospital and is unsure of when those doses will arrive. Morgan Medical Center continues to follow guidance from DPH and the CDC regarding coronavirus treatment and vaccinations. For more information regarding the hospital’s plans for the community vaccine clinic, visit morganmedical.org/vaccine.
The vaccine is also being administered by the Morgan County Health Department, which has reserved Mondays for vaccinations only for those who qualify and have an appointment.
Qualifying local residents can also register to receive the vaccine through the Northeast Georgia Health Department and Ingles.
“At this time, the district is prioritizing COVID-19 vaccine appointments for those who live or work in our district, which includes Barrow, Clarke, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Walton counties. If you do not live or work in one of these counties, we encourage you to also contact your local health department or health district to request an appointment,” said a rep from the Northeast Health District, which includes Morgan County.
To pre-register with the Northeast Health District, visit publichealthathens.com. You can also register by phone with the Morgan County Health Department. at (706) 752-1266, ext. 0 to schedule an appointment.
To make an appointment at Ingles in Madison, which is also offering the vaccine, sign up at ingles-markets.com/covid19-waitlist.