Thousands of vehicles lined up at Pocono Raceway on Saturday, eagerly waiting to be flagged at the start line.
However, the pilots weren’t there to tour the Tricky Triangle. Instead, they were lining up to get an injection of the Moderna vaccine at the first COVID-19 mass vaccination site in Monroe County on March 20.
Lehigh Valley Health Network handled the logistics for the big event, with the Pocono Raceway welcoming 3,000 patients to be vaccinated against the virus.
“We’ve been in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Health Network for a number of years now, and obviously they’re working with the state to get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Kevin Heaney, senior director of marketing and healthcare. communications at Pocono. Raceway.
“They contacted us looking for a host site in County Monroe, they asked us, and it obviously took us about three seconds to say, ‘Absolutely, we’re here to help. “”
After hosting several other mass vaccination events in Dorney Park and the Wildwater Kingdom over the past two months, the LVHN appears to have its COVID-19 vaccination strategy for its first foray into the Poconos.
“I asked a few people who have been through this; it’s about 30 minutes, ”said Elizabeth Wise, president of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono. “So 15 of those minutes, we have to watch you after you get the vaccine to make sure you’re okay and not having a reaction. And then the remaining 15 minutes consist of driving, driving and getting vaccinated. “
Maria Seldow, a registered nurse who volunteered to administer the vaccine, said the conditions at the track on Saturday were perfect for the big event, which made things a lot easier.
“Everyone is just awesome. We’re just working together, doing a great job getting people vaccinated. That’s the important thing, right? People are happy to be here, we have a beautiful day, we have the sun; I mean, what more could you ask for? Seldow said.
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Maria Thomas, a registry-certified nurse anesthetist who volunteered to monitor the viewing area, took the time to check out every patient who crossed her line and chat a bit, thanking the ex-military for their service, asking where people have traveled and really enjoyed connecting with the locals.
“What an incredible opportunity,” said Thomas. “I have met a lot of great people from our community, and I’m really happy to be able to do so today.”
Patients were surprised and quite pleased with the prompt service, making the effort to return to some semblance of normalcy a more easily achievable goal for the county and the Commonwealth as a whole.
“It’s fantastic; it’s a great place to have it and it’s a great program here,” said Bill Burke, who came from Saylorsburg for his vaccine. “I’m glad they’re doing it for that the people of the region get everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible so that we can all get back to a normal – or somewhat normal – way of life. “
Although LVHN and many other providers have encouraged people to sign up for vaccinations through online portals – a few minutes of waiting can see hundreds of appointments go up in smoke – some callers have been successful in securing an appointment. photo by pure perseverance. After staying in the line until she was able to lock down her date, Vicki Brandli of Clifton Township was overjoyed to get the shot on Saturday.
“(I’m) absolutely thrilled,” Brandli said. “I’m just trying to do everything so that we can get back to normal.”
While the Pocono Raceway event was quickly booked after its announcement, Wise said LVHN will continue to offer vaccinations through a number of locations in the Poconos and beyond. And with assurances that supplies will remain consistent, the healthcare network hopes to make significant progress in protecting people from COVID-19.
“We have been told that week after week we will continue to see high doses of vaccines throughout the Lehigh Valley Health Network,” said Wise. “Currently, apart from this mass vaccination event, we vaccinate every day in the hospital, where we can vaccinate between 400 and 500 people per day. And then we have three health care centers – Bartonsville, East Stroudsburg, and Tobyhanna – where our doctor also does vaccination for people.
Booster shots will be given to the raceway in approximately four weeks. There’s a good chance the Tricky Triangle will once again host the LVHN race for herd immunity, as Wise also noted that she is planning more mass vaccinations in Monroe County.
“We look forward to other dates when we can get the first doses to people,” Wise said.
On Monday, March 22, the Commonwealth administered 2,884,556 single or partial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as 1,426,543 second doses, for a total of 4,311,118 injections so far.
Although the Commonwealth is currently stuck in Phase 1A of the vaccine rollout, recent initiatives – including larger shipments of vaccine to a group of 200 to 300 vendors announced by Acting Department of Health Secretary Alison Beam on Thursday, March 18 – will help increase the momentum of the operation.
“Because there are fewer suppliers, we will provide them with more vaccines so they don’t run out as quickly as they used to,” Beam said. “As always, we will assess the effectiveness of the network to make sure the vaccine is accessible and provided fairly and quickly to get people immunized.”
Beam noted that as vaccine supplies catch up with demand, the supplier network will be expanded to provide more vaccines to people across the Commonwealth, and that three to five mass vaccination sites could be included in this group. restricted from suppliers.
With the LVHN supply team of nurses, medical officials and volunteers taking care of operations, it looks like future events at Pocono Raceway and other locations will really help in the race to a post Pennsylvania. -pandemic.