PRINCETON — Labor-intense efforts like the COVID-19 vaccination clinics that inoculate hundreds of people strain local health care personnel, but volunteers giving their time are helping to keep the vaccinations moving.
Volunteers braved wind and frigid temperatures at the Brushfork National Guard Armory and again at the Princeton Church of God when outdoor vaccination clinics delivered inoculations to people across Mercer County last week. They helped guide patients, helped check their appointments, helped medical personnel if they were qualified to do so and helped to monitor people who had received their shots to make sure they did not suffer adverse vaccine reactions.
The people who keep giving their time during a pandemic were present again last week when COVID-19 vaccination clinics were held at the Karen Preservati Center/ Princeton Rescue Squad Training Center off Stafford Drive. Many of the vaccine recipients were senior citizens 65 years old and older, and most had never visited the center. Volunteers were ready to help guide them through the process and reassure them.
Volunteers helped beforehand by calling people who had preregistered and telling them when to arrive for their shots.
“I’m very pleased so many people have responded,” volunteer Ellen Friend of the Athens Road area said as people lined up in the center’s banquet hall for their vaccinations. “This is a second-shot day.”
The vaccination clinics were not the first time Friend has volunteered to help others.
“I’m a volunteer by nature,” she said. “I try to volunteer for all community activities, and I feel that this is an especially good one. In 2016, I was ringing the bell at the Walmart for the Salvation Army when I had a heart attack. I feel good today.”
Friend said she was not feeling so good back in 2016, but she rang the bell anyway because she had signed up. She looked around as the preregistered patients moved along the line and received vaccinations.
“It’s moving fast,” she noted.
Deb McCarthy of Mercer County, who described herself as “the volunteer volunteer coordinator,” said it’s important for individuals to serve their community during events like vaccination clinics.
“It takes a village to take care of a village,” she stated. “We have to jump in and make it happen.”
McCarthy said that she works with about 25 volunteers, and more coordinators and their crews bring the total to about 60. Like Friend, McCarthy and other volunteers called preregistered people so they could get their shots.
“Remarkably, out of the maybe 60 phones calls I made, I got through to all but two people,” she recalled Friday. “They were delighted to be called and know they can come in today.”
Practical nursing students with the Mercer County Technical Education Center have been participating at the vaccination clinics to fulfill their clinical work requirements, but they said that they were happy to help the community, too. Student Jodi Poore of Princeton said that she and the other students have been helping the Mercer County Health Department with drivethrough COVID testing, too.
She said their instructors, Michelle Perkins and Patricia Wright, have worked hard to make sure they can complete their clinical requirements.
“I think it’s nice to be part of the experience,” she said. “You’ve got some elderly patients who come, and this helps give the peace of mind. (The pandemic) has really halted a lot of people’s lives.”
Student Ginger Wheeler of Princeton was also liked being able to serve the community.
“I think it’s been a good experience to work with the community, especially our elderly community,” she said of the clinics. “And it’s good experience as a nursing student and it’s a good feeling to help them community out during the pandemic.”
McCarthy watched as more people arrived for their second vaccinations.
“If we had The Rolling Stones as entertainment, this would be huge,” she commented. “That’s the only way it would be bigger.”
Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline. com