By Faye Gaston

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, members of the Alabama Air National Guard from the Air Force and Army branches were at the Richard Stone Complex in Union Springs to set up a free vaccine clinic to administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine to the 308, who had received the first dose in Union Springs. At the same time, vaccinations were to be administered at the local state prison in Union Springs to 900 individuals. This was the fifth week the National Guard had administered vaccines across Alabama in mobile clinics, bringing all they needed with them.

Ray Scott, Director of the Bullock County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), said that in spite of the "mix-up on the location," everything was going well. It was scheduled to be held again at the Union Springs Elementary School but was changed on short notice to the Richard Stone Complex, former National Guard Armory. Tim Hatch, Assistant District Administrator of the East Central District for Alabama Public Health, said that in spite of "the confusion," they were set up and ready at the scheduled time, and one/half had been vaccinated by 10:30 a.m. They would be there until 5:00 p.m. or leave earlier if all had been vaccinated. Those who did not get their shot would be given phone call reminders. If they did not come in, they could get it in Tuskegee on Thursday or Phenix City on Friday.

For those physically unable to walk into the Stone complex, they could get the vaccine in a "drive-through." Seated in their vehicle, they could do their paperwork, get the shot, and drive to a designated area to wait 15 minutes if there was an adverse reaction.

The large room in the Stone Complex was divided into work sections. One was for paperwork to verify that the first dose had been administered and checked for any symptoms of COVID-19.

Six tables were where the shots were administered and the vaccination card delivered to verify that the two doses had been administered. Another section held chairs, with the social distancing, where the vaccinated persons were to wait 15 minutes to see if there was an adverse reaction.

Tim Hatch said there had been "a handful of reactions" from the thousands and thousands in Alabama who had received the vaccine. Those felt "light-headed," and one fainted. There were medics in the Stone building to handle possible reactions.

Ray Scott delivered lunch from Subway for 84 members of the Alabama National Guard team.

Alabama Governor Kay Ivey activated the Alabama National Guard to set up free vaccine clinics in at least 24 rural counties throughout Alabama. The Guard is working closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency. The Guard was deployed to begin on March 21, 2021, to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at rural county sites. Governor Ivey said the "guardsmen would play a critical role in reaching folks in rural areas of Alabama." The help of the National Guard would improve Alabama's poor ranking in administering the vaccine.

Alabama has the fifth largest National Guard in America. Since 2011, Alabama's National Guard has been activated 23 times. When disaster strikes and the country calls, the National Guard responds with speed, strength, and efficiency. Members are committed to making a difference by serving both the community and country in domestic emergencies, overseas combat missions, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions, and more.

Bullock County says "Thank You" to the Alabama National Guard for the vaccine clinics and for the previous service of sanitizing the local nursing home (Southern Springs Healthcare & Rehabilitation Facility) due to the COVID-19 virus.

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