The Butler Health System is expecting its new community COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Clearview Mall to operate as smoothly as the clinic did in Butler Memorial Hospital.
Beginning Wednesday, all vaccinations scheduled through BMH will be administered at the new clinic that will operate from 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The community has praised the efficiency of the clinic in the hospital, and BHS officials believe the new clinic will be just as efficient, even though it will be able to vaccinate 3,000 people a day.
“It's pretty slick. We anticipate this will work well,” BHS spokeswoman Jana Panther said at the new clinic Tuesday while hospital staff were busy making final preparations for Wednesday's opening.
People coming for vaccinations will enter in two lines for registration and then proceed to the vaccination stations. After getting vaccinated, people will be asked to sit in a waiting area for 15 minutes in case of reactions to the vaccine. People will exit through separate doors after getting vaccinated. Support staff will guide and direct people through the process, just like they have been doing at the hospital.
Also like the hospital, the clinic will administer only the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The federal and state governments have temporarily suspended the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six people in the country experienced blood clots as reactions.
Signs directing traffic to the clinic will be placed at mall entrances, and arrow signs will help direct people.
The new clinic will operate indefinitely, and demand for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines could increase because of the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Panther said. Some people were waiting until the single-dose J&J vaccine became more widely available to schedule vaccinations, she said.
Now that vaccinations are open to all state residents 16 and older, BHS hopes young adults will sign up and is using Instagram to reach out to them.
“We hope young people will jump on the bandwagon,” Panther said.
She said dates for vaccination appointments are open for the new clinic and at Clarion Hospital, which is also part of BHS.
Signs saying “Spread Kindness not Germs” and “Hope is Here” hang inside and outside of the new clinic.
A vaccine selfie station has also been set up inside the clinic for people wishing to document their vaccination with photos.
The walk from the parking lot to the new clinic is shorter than the walk from the hospital parking lot to the hospital. Finding a parking space in the huge mall lot is much easier than it was at the hospital, while it was running the clinic and normal hospital business, Panther said. Dropping someone off for a vaccination will also be easier, she said.
“It will really help decongest the hospital,” Mindy Dunkerly, BHS executive director of quality and performance, said about relocating the clinic.
The improved parking at the new clinic will help speed up the whole vaccination process, Dunkerly said.
She said the staff at the new clinic will reach 50 when the clinic reaches its 3,000-injections-a-day goal. The clinic staff of hired contractors includes 20 people who prepare and administer injections, and 30 support staff, she said.
Adverse postvaccination reactions to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have been few and minor, said Matt Schnur, BHS pharmacy director. He estimated that fewer than 10 people of the 100,000 BHS has vaccinated experienced adverse reactions. No one had a serious reaction, and none were admitted to the hospital.
BHS said all residents ages 16 and older can now sign up for vaccinations, and should do so because the coronavirus continues to spread in the community. Appointments can be scheduled at www.butlerhealthsystem.org
Some people have contracted COVID-19 after receiving the first of the two doses, probably because their bodies didn't have enough time to produce antibodies before receiving the second dose, Schnur said.
He said he has heard only anecdotal reports of people contracting the virus after receiving both doses, but it is possible. Because the vaccine isn't 100% effective against the vaccine, people react differently to it, and there are different strains of the virus.