Amazon hosts COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic for employees

Aprile Rickert, The Evening News and the Tribune, Jeffersonville, Ind.
·4 min read

May 4—JEFFERSONVILLE — Amazon has expanded its COVID-19 immunization efforts to Indiana employees and their families, kicking off a daylong vaccination clinic Tuesday at the SDF-8, the fulfillment center in Jeffersonville.

The U.S. campaign started in late March with clinics at Amazon facilities and other companies under the Amazon umbrella in Missouri, Nevada and Kansas. Roughly 20,000 people across Indiana are expected to receive the shots in the coming weeks through a partnership with Walgreens.

A steady stream of people came through to get shots Tuesday during the clinic hours of 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. In this area, the Pfizer vaccine is being used, which means there will be a second clinic three weeks from now for people to get second shots.

Amazon is incentivizing the vaccinations by offering associates $40 per shot whether they get it on site or at another location within the community — Pfizer or Moderna will put an extra $80 in employees' pockets, while getting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine will earn them $40.

Matt Pulley, director of Operations at SDF-8 in Jeffersonville, said the company had seen a very positive turnout throughout the campaign in other states and said he was expecting a good show of people in Jeffersonville.

"I think this is very important for our frontline workers and for our community that we try to get things back to normal," Pulley said. Over the past year, the company has implemented plans and technologies to help mitigate the spread of COVID, including requiring face masks, staggering shift start times and doing regular cleanings of high traffic areas, Pulley said.

The company has also provided free testing, and installed sensors that help enforce social distancing. In high-volume areas, staff can see on a screen in real time how close they are to another person. A green circle around a person shows a safe distance, yellow shows they're getting close and red is closer than the social distancing guidelines.

The information is used to help determine if areas need to be reconfigured to prevent large gatherings of people.

"All those things we've been doing to keep us going, this is just one more step to get us back to normal this year," Pulley said.

Joanie Griffin, a Louisville resident who's worked at Amazon for about six months as a packer, was among those to receive shots on this first Indiana clinic day.

"I just believe that if everyone pitches in, eventually the virus will go away and help lift these safety measures so we can get back to normal everyday life," she said, adding that the clinic being offered right on site was very convenient.

At 19, Griffin said she had been watching with interest as the state age requirements guidelines reached her, "because I wanted to protect myself and my family," she said. But among others close in age she knows, Griffin said it's been mixed.

"A lot of my friends live out of state and from what I've heard, they don't really plan on getting vaccinated which kind of sucks because that means that they're at risk and more people are at risk," she said. "But a lot of the [people] I hang out with and that I look up to on social media, they have gotten it so that's really good."

Josh Corum, assistant general manager at SDF-8, also got his first Pfizer shot at the start of the clinic. Although he was eligible before, Corum was diagnosed with COVID about two months ago, and his doctor advised him to wait.

"I think for me, it's really about being able to slow the spread of things, getting us all back to the scenario where we can get back to normal," he said. "...[and] knowing that from my perspective, I'm not actively spreading the virus within the community."

Corum said he also wanted to experience the clinic to know what it was like for others coming through.

Although the campaign is hosted through Amazon and Walgreens, Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said any efforts to increase immunizations are important.

"We obviously fully support as many community partners getting out there to assist in the vaccination process [as possible,]" Yazel said. He said that since requirements have opened and that everyone in the community who wants a vaccine is eligible, honing in on things like barriers is important. Having a clinic on-site at a place of employment can make it that much easier for employees to get the shots.

"It just doesn't get more convenient than that," he said.

Currently, SDF-8 has around 2,500 employees. At the start of the pandemic, staff were given extended time off if needed, for their safety.

"We were able to make it through that period of time," Pulley said. "We also hired thousands last year to help supplement some of those people that needed time off, and as we come through now into 2021, we're still seeing record sales."