Coastal Health District vaccinates 500-plus at Selden Park

Larry Hobbs, The Brunswick News, Ga.
·4 min read

Apr. 7—Lora Crowder walked toward her car in the parking lot outside of the Selden Park gymnasium Tuesday morning, rubbing her right arm over the shirtsleeve.

"Oh Lord, I'm glad that's over," she said, speaking to no one in particular.

"Did it hurt?" asked a man who was just stepping out of his vehicle.

Crowder turned to the man and smiled. To Crowder, the COVID-19 vaccine shot in the arm she had just received inside the gym meant freedom.

"My arm's hurting a little bit, yeah," the 50-year-old Brunswick resident said. "But you know, I want to travel. I've got grandbabies in North Carolina. The mountains are beautiful there."

Still, some people just do not like shots.

"Ouch!" bellowed Maite Ruiz as Coastal Health District nurse Allison Sanchez slid the needle into her arm.

When Sanchez's thumb pressed down on the syringe's plunger and emptied the vaccine into her arm, Ruiz breathed a sigh of relief.

"I guess it hurt a little — but, no, she's good," Ruiz said of nurse Sanchez. "I'm definitely glad we got our vaccines. We're very lucky and it's very organized."

Some 550 people or more received vaccines during the event at Selden Park, located off U.S. Highway 341 near Brunswick. The Coastal Health District even managed to accommodate a dozen or so walk-ins who had not registered in advance.

The health district's nurses were administering the new Johnson & Johnson Janssen vaccine. The Janssen vaccine requires only one shot followed by a two-week wait period before it is at full strength to ward off COVID-19. Vaccines from other companies require two shots, which means a return visit two weeks later for the second shot.

"It's one and done," said Paige Lightsey, immunization coordinator for the Coastal Health District. "After two weeks, they build up efficacy (resistance)."

Ruiz's mother, Maria Saurez, took her turn in the vaccination seat beside nurse Sanchez's table just before her daughter went. The 64-year-old never flinched or stopped talking the whole time Sanchez was injecting the vaccine.

During the height of the pandemic last year, she and Ruiz were stuck in Mexico for five months because pandemic-enforced travel restrictions prevented them from returning home to Brunswick.

"I feel very, very good," said Saurez, 64. "No pain. We were looking for the J&J shot so we would just need one shot. We've been waiting so long for this shot."

Glynn County Fire Rescue paramedics were on hand to lend medical assistance in case anyone experienced adverse reactions to the vaccine. Two individuals did feel faint and weak after getting the shot. Both reactions were likely due to nervousness.

County paramedics Joshua Johnson and Capt. Travis Johnson tended to both until they felt refreshed enough to stand again.

"It's comforting for an event this big to have the EMS guys here monitoring our patients," Lightsey said. "We had those who had issues and felt light-headed earlier. Without the EMS guys we would have to get a nurse who was giving vaccines to stop and help monitor the patients."

Crowder felt better just having the EMS workers around.

"It was so great, and the EMS is there if someone needs attention after getting the vaccines," Crowder said. "It makes me feel safer."

As of Friday, the Coastal Health District had administered 108,644 vaccines throughout the eight-county area, which includes Glynn, Camden, McIntosh, Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Long and Liberty counties. That includes 25,794 vaccinations administered in Glynn County since the district began providing vaccinations in mid-December, Lightsey said.

The availability of the one-shot Janssen vaccine has created a lot of interest, she said.

Just ask Nichole and August Breton. They drove down from Savannah to get their vaccines at Selden Park.

"We wanted to get the Johnson & Johnson shot," said Nichole, 43. "It's one shot and then it's done. Glynn County is the only place that had them. It's extremely well-organized."

She also was impressed that paramedics were on scene.

"I was kind of nervous, and that was comforting," she said. "It made me feel relieved that I would be in good hands if something happened."

Lightsey said some had waited purposely in hopes of getting the one-shot Janssen vaccination.

At an earlier clinic at Howard Coffin Park, a woman flew in from Atlanta just to get the Janssen vaccine, she said.