‘A shot of hope’: Summit Community Care Clinic begins vaccinating its patients
For Dr. Kathleen Cowie, the novel coronavirus vaccine is a “shot of hope.”
On Friday, Jan. 8, Cowie, who is the chief medical officer at the Summit Community Care Clinic, got to vaccinate some of her 70-and-older patients against COVID-19 for the first time. The clinic is the first medical facility outside of grocery store pharmacies and the Summit County Public Health Department to vaccinate the community.
“It’s been so hard for so many of our patients,” Cowie said about the pandemic. “Life here in Summit is already really difficult for so many people, and throwing this on top of it has been a real struggle. Being able to vaccinate our patients and the wider community against this virus feels like a literal shot of hope.”
The county allocated 130 doses for the clinic to administer Friday. As more doses come in, the clinic plans to continue vaccinating people at its drive-thru site in the parking lot next to the Medical Offices Building in Frisco.
In its normal operations, the clinic offers medical care to those in the community who might otherwise have a difficult time accessing it. That includes people who are uninsured or underinsured and people who don’t speak English.
During the pandemic, Cowie and the rest of the care clinic’s team have been working hard to get the word out to the clinic’s patients about updates and best practices.
Misty Shell, the clinic’s director of operations, said staff has been calling patients directly to inform them of their eligibility to get the vaccine.
“People feel safe with us,” she said. “Our vulnerable population feels like they can safely come here, and we’ll take care of them.”
Right now, the best way to find out about open vaccination appointments is through Summit County government’s social media and SC Alert system. While that works for people who have access to internet or a smartphone, there are some in the community who don’t have those things, Clinical Manager Karen Meza said.
“We serve a vulnerable population,” Meza said. “One of our nurses was making phone calls to reach some of these people that don’t have internet, or maybe a smartphone, or they don’t even know how to sign up for an SC Alert.”
The vaccine, which is free to anyone who qualifies for it, will successfully end the pandemic only if a majority of people get it and the community reaches herd immunity. Cowie said the clinic’s partnership with public health has helped them be able to get in contact with their patient population before the day of the vaccination drive.
“We were given a bit of a grace period to outreach our patients that don’t have email access or maybe reliable internet, that may have barriers to be able to respond to a countywide blast,” Cowie said. “Those patients were so grateful to get that call.”
Cowie added that people shouldn’t worry about getting the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is 95% effective, while the Moderna vaccine, which patients received Friday, is 94% effective.
“It’s more effective than really any vaccine we’ve had,” Cowie said. “It’s something new and something new is always a little scary, but it’s a life-saving vaccine. In order for us to move things forward, we as a collective need to understand the benefits of it.”
The clinic will be announcing new appointments weekly. It will be prioritizing its patient population and then opening any leftover appointments to the public.
People can be notified of new appointments across the county by signing up for SC Alerts at SCAlert.org. The county will notify the public of new appointments through the alert system and on its website at SummitCountyCo.gov/vaccine.
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