800 get shots at Johnston County mass vaccination event
Posted January 14, 2021 4:11 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2021 6:49 p.m. EST
Selma, N.C. — After Gov. Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina would move to vaccinate anyone 65 and older against COVID-19, Johnston County moved quickly.
Over the course of five hours Thursday, about 800 people got their first of two doses, administered in drive-thru event at North Johnston High School. The average wait time was about 90 minutes.
The event was planned 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – before the governor's announcement – and the day began with a long line of those 75 and over, waiting in their cars in the wee hours of the morning.
Jerry Mcglophlin was first line, at 3 o’clock in the morning. “People my age, we’re worried," he said. "It’s scary to go to the grocery store right now.”
When news came out that additional people were eligible for the shot, that line grew.
“I stopped immediately what I was doing, got in my pickup, got my wife and came down here," said Freddy Narron of Middlesex.
The couple, both 72, rushed to North Johnston High School soon after the governor said he'd lower the eligible age.
“I have a new granddaughter who is going to be born in three months, and I want to be as protected as I can so I can spend as much time with my children and my grandchildren as I possibly can,” Narron said.
Health care workers are also eligible to get vaccinated.
Abdurrahman Hinton, a mental health clinician, drove about an hour from Wake County, overcoming some nerves to trust the vaccine.
“I used to be kind of apprehensive and [believed] conspiracy theories," he said, "but I don’t have that luxury, because I’m 50 and older, have an autoimmune deficiency, and I work on the front lines.”
One of the roadblocks in the vaccination process has been collecting people’s personal information.
As the parking lot filled at North Johnston High School, staff distributed the two-page data collection form, so by the time a car got to the front of the line, those inside were ready.
Drivers handed over their paper and got their shot. Everyone vaccinated had to wait at least 15 minutes in a separate parking lot where they were monitored for any issues or symptoms.
Johnston County had plans to vaccinate 500 people but added another 300 doses to the allotment for this event due to the high demand.
The county will wait on an additional allocation of vaccine from the state before scheduling any more of mass vaccination events.