Maybe, just maybe......we could turn vaccination clinics into events and have some fun


Iwas a bit excited and anxious this past Friday morning before a 9 a.m., appointment for my second COVID-19 inoculation at Midwest Medical Center.

I was a bit anxious about what reaction I might have. There is growing evidence that there is sufficient immunity after one shot if the recipient has had COVID-19 so I was wondering if a second inoculation was really necessary. I had tested positive for COVID in late September. However, the CDC has not weighed in on this yet so it was a moot thought.

But in the same vein, I was excited, super excited, to be receiving this second shot. The research has shown that in two weeks after the second shot, one has sufficient immunity against this virus which has invaded our world. I somehow felt liberated. Others have shared similar feelings.

Excitement might not be a strong enough word, because I left my paperwork and COVID vaccination card in the top left drawer of my desk.

“Damn,” I said, after getting out of my car in the parking lot. Luckily I had the QR code on my cell phone and all was good. . .until the nurse wanted to record the second inoculation.

The hospital was set up to handle a crowd. Vince Meyer greeted hospital guests in the entrance foyer and directed vaccine recipients to a registration table inside.

There was already a line six or seven deep upon my arrival and others politely waiting to get in line until those with 9 a.m. appointments found a place in line.

“How thoughtful,” I thought.

Ahead of me was Deb Bertucci whom I hadn’t seen for many a month so it was nice to chat with her a bit. Her husband, Bobby, whom I hadn’t seen in several years, was at the registration table.

Three people greeted patrons at the registration table so the process was swift and stress free. Midwest Medical Center Administrative Assistant Danielle Miller waited on me.

Danielle directed me upstairs.

Across from the medical clinic is a large room which is mostly used by the Fitness Center staff for fitness classes and fitness training sessions.

On this day, the room was converted into a mass second-dose vaccination clinic. Helen Kilgore greeted everyone coming to the door and directed them to the numbered spot where they needed to begin standing in line.

At least five people seated behind a table completed the registration process. Peg Dittmar, who just retired as a family nurse practitioner at Midwest Medical Center, made sure my paperwork was intact. From there I was summoned into a cubicle for a vaccination that took a couple of minutes at the most and from there to a waiting area where I stayed for 15-20 minutes.

There I had the opportunity to catch up with Bobby Bertucci.

Three volunteers, including Gazette columnist Art Ricker, helped sign people out after the waiting period.

I wish I had written down the names of all I knew going through the line. . .let’s just say it was quite the crowd.

The strange thing about these vaccines is how some people have a reaction and others don’t. Other than a sore arm, my first vaccination was a non-event. This vaccination was another matter.

A low-grade fever started Friday night and on Saturday, the only thing I wanted to do was sit or lay down. Somehow I managed to stay up until 7:30 p.m., and went to bed. The fever broke just before midnight.

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By Sunday morning I felt like a new man.

And, yes. . .if I had to do it all over again, I would. . .in a heartbeat.

After watching the efficiency of this vaccine clinic in partnership between the hospital and health department where 488 people were inoculated, I can see why and how Tracy Bauer, Midwest Medical CEO, believes her organization could vaccinate up to 5,000 people per week. The hospital has been requesting 1,000 doses a week from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), but has yet to receive any.

As an aside, Gazette reporter Brandon Behlke’s attempts to talk to someone at IDPH for three weeks now have gone unanswered!

This clinic at the hospital took place just as Walmart began a vaccination clinic at its Galena store. Walmart received vaccine doses from the federal government and not IDPH.

Marty and Diane Rosenthal were two of the area residents receiving a vaccination at Walmart this past Sunday. They were impressed with the process and how compassionately they were treated.

The lack of vaccine coming to Jo Daviess County through IDPH has made planning for clinics challenging. That’s too bad.

With greater supply, business owners such as Tammy Lee of Tammy’s Piggly Wiggly, could have greater opportunities to get vaccine in the arms of her staff members, front-line workers, to protect them and her customers.

It would be wonderful to dedicate a week to inoculate these front-line workers as well as those who work at restaurants and other necessary businesses.

It would be wonderful to go into schools and inoculate staff.

And the list goes on. . .and so much time and frustration would be staved off.

But. . .only if there was enough vaccine...

There have been many approaches to vaccine clinics that have taken place around the world. In Israel, a Tel Aviv bar agreed to host a vaccine clinic. Everyone who received an inoculation also received a free drink.

I’m not sure that would comply with Illinois liquor laws. Other restaurants in Israel have offered inducements of pizza, hummus or traditional kosher stew at their vaccine clinics.

With adequate vaccine supply and some imagination, vaccination clinics could become must-attend events.

Maybe. . .just maybe. . .the new just-approved one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will help increase that vaccine supply coming to Jo Daviess County.

P. Carter Newton,