Can I get a COVID vaccination during lunch?

Donna Price (left) prepares to receive a COVID vaccination from Putnam Health Department employee Julie Cales (right).

By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor

Experience the COVID vaccination process before you go

COOKEVILLE – With the expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, there are many more scheduling an appointment for their first injection. This has prompted many in the community to question the time necessary to get the vaccine and is the process is worth the effort. UCBJ Editor Michelle Price rode along with sister-in-law Donna Price to document the experience for UCBJ readers.

On Wednesday, I used the state’s vaccine finder to schedule an appointment for Donna. The first available appointment with the Putnam County Health Department was at 11:30 a.m. the following day at the Putnam County Fairgrounds.

11:20 a.m. – We arrived to a rather long line and were instructed to circle the area where the carnival usually sets up and fall in line. It was a little intimidating looking at the line that stretched along the road around the fairgrounds and curved into the carnival area.

11:28 a.m. – The line is moving faster than expected and we are now on the road behind the Putnam County Agriculture Center being checked-in. This first worker verifies Donna’s appointment and checks her ID to verify her identity. He directs us to follow the line of cars around the fairgrounds to the entrance for vaccinations.

11:45 a.m. – For the number of cars in this line, it seemed to be moving pretty well. This is reminiscent of being in the line waiting to get into the August agricultural fair. We are about halfway down the road around the back of the fairgrounds and can see the entrance for vaccinations.

12:04 p.m. – Approaching the entrance, we are greeted by another worker handing out pamphlets about the vaccines along with a personalized barcode to track your injection. As he moves on down the line, we are greeted by another worker who verifies the number of people in the car receiving the vaccine and once again verifies Donna’s ID. This worker casually comments that on Wednesday, the site gave 720 vaccinations in the few hours they were open. As I look back, the line behind us has shortened and circling the carnival area is no longer necessary. 

12:07 p.m. – Finally, we are inside the gate, where a sign greets asking that everyone please wear a mask. Cars are now separated into two lanes to allow more vaccinations to occur concurrently.

12:22 p.m. – One hour after arriving, it’s our turn. Donna’s ID is verified once again before she receives the vaccine. It is a quick 30-second process that according to Donna was almost painless. 

“It doesn’t hurt,” said Price. “It felt about the size of a diabetic needle, which is extremely small. It just doesn’t hurt. Relax your arm and you are good to go.”

We were directed to pull into a six lane holding area and to wait for 15 minutes to make sure that the vaccine doesn’t cause any reactions in the newly vaccinated.

12:37 p.m. – Just an hour and seven minutes after the scheduled time for the appointment, we are being directed to leave the holding area by the national guardsman who is supervising the area. 

The final waiting area. Vaccine recipients are requested to remain here for 15 minutes to ensure that there are no reactions to the vaccine.

Looking back at the entrance the line has shortened yet again. In hindsight, scheduling the vaccination during the lunch rush wasn’t the best idea I’ve had, but everyone was professional, and it was a relatively painless experience overall. 

The Putnam County Health Department staff has done an exceptional job from handling the early stages of the vaccinations to designing a process here that is impressive in its efficiency.

Michelle Price is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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