Sampson County COVID-19 vaccine site opens early with line 2 miles long; 1,600 inoculated

Local News

CLINTON, N.C. (WNCN) — The Sampson County Health Department vaccinated about 1,600 people on a first come, first served basis Saturday. 

The vaccine was offered to people 65 and older in the parking lot of the Sampson County Exposition Center.  Demand for the vaccine was so high, county health officials had to open the drive-thru clinic an hour early. 

“By 8 a.m., we had a line about two miles long,” said Susan Holder, assistant county manager and public information officer for Sampson County.

According to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Sampson County is listed as a red/critical county for community spread of the virus.

“This is the next step, the next measure to returning some normalcy to our small towns, to our large county, to our businesses,” Holder said of getting people vaccinated. 

Vaccine rollout varies county by county in North Carolina. Some counties offer the vaccine by appointment only, others prioritize people based on age and zip code where COVID-19 spread is high.

Sampson County offers appointments, but mostly vaccinates people through mass clinics on a first come, first served basis. 

“In a rural community, the resources are a little limited,” Holder said when asked about why the county chose that strategy. “So we decided it would be best to use the resources as best we could and as judiciously as we could. We decided a first come, first served was the best thing for us.”

She added, “We have found mass vaccination clinics, particularly on a Saturday like this one, reaches out to people that couldn’t normally come during the week.”

That strategy hasn’t worked in some neighboring counties, but it seems to work in Sampson County.

Some people reported waiting in their cars for about an hour, but overall, the lines at the Saturday drive-through clinic moved fairly quickly.

Holder said no one was turned away, and that several doses were given to people who drove in from Harnett and Robeson counties. 

John Hollingsworth showed up to the vaccine clinic just before noon to beat the morning rush. He told CBS 17 he’s not the most patient person, but he was willing to wait for the vaccine. 

“All this quarantine and not being able to be with your family and visit and stuff like that, it’s the pits and I’m tired of it,” he said as he waited his turn to get the shot. 

Everyone who was vaccinated at Saturday’s clinic will have to get their second dose in 28 days. Holder said the next vaccine clinic hasn’t been scheduled yet. 

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