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Cumming Fairgrounds to be used as vaccination site
Vaccine

Some local vaccine distribution will be moved from the Forsyth County Department of Health to the Cumming Fairgrounds.

At a recent meeting, the Cumming City Council approved allowing vaccine distribution at Horton Hall at the fairgrounds as of Monday, Feb. 15. City Administrator Phil Higgins said he had recently met with officials with the department and Chris Grimes, Forsyth County Emergency Management Agency director, about why the fairgrounds would be a better location than the department’s office on Canton Highway.

“The challenge now, is the seating space inside the facility is small and parking is limited,” Higgins said. “They need more room for social distancing, and additional parking is desperately needed.”

Higgins said the department would only distribute vaccines, when available, on weekdays during regular business hours and that he was told by Fairgrounds Administrator Tracy Helms that the vaccine distribution would not interfere with any planned at the fairgrounds.

Per the agreement, if the city needs to use Horton Hal, vaccines will be given out at the Canton Highway office.

When asked by members of the council how long the facility would be used, Higgins said “it could be several months.”

“The problem they have right now is actually getting the vaccines,” he said. “It’s been a challenge for them and we don’t know what the rollout’s going to be that will attend to all of our citizens, so it could be for several months.”

Mayor Troy Brumbalow said the health department is currently receiving 300-500 doses a week, which are given out by appointment.

“They don’t know how many they get each week, it’s just whatever shows up,” he said, “but, they have to hold half of that to give a second shot, and the problem is they just don’t have the room. I feel it’s in the best interest of the community to use that to get as many people the opportunity to get it done and as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Brumbalow said the fairgrounds gives more space for parking and for patients to wait 15 minutes after the vaccine to make sure there are no adverse effects.

After the council members unanimously approved the motion, Grimes gave an update about public vaccine events in the county.

“In two weeks, we were able to run a little over 2,400 people through our events,” Grimes said. “Our goal to give people that want to get the vaccine to have the opportunity.”

Grimes said there has been high demand for vaccines, including recent online sign-ups for 2,600 appointments over four days that were full in an hour and 40 minutes.

“The demand is there, we’re just trying to meet that with all of our partners,” he said.

He said one health department in another part of the state was dealing with 38,000 phone calls an hour from those seeking vaccines.

Grimes said upcoming vaccine disruptions are expected to use a different vaccine than prior events.

“In our first few events, we had done the Moderna vaccine, we are now transitioning to the Pfizer vaccine -- public health is -- so we can continue to do the events based on the availability that they have.”

One advantage, Grimes said, is the Moderna vaccine does not have to be stored in as cold of facilities as the Pfizer one.

Brumbalow said one issue with the rollout was the state is getting 120,000 doses a week and 40,000 immediately go to assisted living facilities, though Grimes said more doses would soon be going to the community.

“The good news is, the assisted living facilities have just about been completed,” Grimes said, “so that 40,000 that they were getting is going to start to roll back in and get out statewide.”

Those seeking appointments can contact the District 2 Department of Public Health call center at 1-888-426-5073 or do online registration at www.phdistrict2.org