The second county vaccine Point of Delivery (POD), located at the south end of the Fairgrounds property and accessible from of Miners Road, provides more space and gives county staff the ability to vaccinate 300 people every hour.
Jim Barbee, County Manager said the City of Fallon and the county staff worked together to get all the gravel laid and brought in a temporary construction building, “so that staff can work in there as we move forward over the next several months of trying to work to get folks vaccinated here locally.” A local contractor, Hoof Beats Gates and Corrals built the cover structure in 24 hours, said Barbee.
The preliminary location, a four-acre site located just south of Sheckler Road, was really limited in the ability to accommodate the amount of traffic that would back up onto the main roads, causing traffic issues.
“Realizing we had this property, we turned focus to it, graveling and putting in covers for the health staff to administer the vaccines. We’ve been working on this solid for about a month,” said Barbee.
This new location is critical as it allows the ability to vaccinate a large number of people in a day as long as there are vaccines, without backing up traffic onto the state highways that border the facility.
Barbee says the ability to vaccinate is critical. “As the age groups have been opened up, and now we are as open as you can get, ages 16 and above, we've had people coming from all surrounding counties. So we’ve serviced a lot of people from outside the community as well, but it has been largely the people from this community.” To date he said the county has vaccinated 6,500 people, with about 500 of those from outside the community.
Response from people taking part in the PODs has been positive. The average wait time is 35 – 40 minutes with no appointment needed.
Barbee said several other communities have come to see what Churchill County has done. “It really has become a model for other communities.”
He recognized the work done by the county staff from several different departments along with the City of Fallon staff who have all been responsive and willing to do whatever is necessary to serve the community. “It is all the staff, Shannon Ernst, the Roads Department, Jorge Guerrero with the Facilities and Grounds, it’s been an all hands-on-deck deal and it’s really paid off. The city too they’ve been right here with us the whole time.”
Shannon Ernst is the director of the Social Service Department and has been instrumental in the development and funding of the POD. “Having a site that we’ve been able to respond to the need in the community for testing and vaccinations has been amazing,” she said. “This is very exciting; it is amazing to have a coordinated location where everyone can come. Our full health staff works here now so we are able to have more access, days and times for everyone.”
In a community of 25,000 the 6,500 vaccinated represents only 26% of the population. With a large part of the community still not vaccinated, Ernst says, “It is a personal choice, you need to do your research but also really look at what are the impacts to the community around you and your loved ones. If you are being vaccinated, you’re reducing that spread,” she said. “Everyone keeps saying they want the mask restrictions to go away – so, do your part, get vaccinated.”
She said it is the hope of county leadership that the more people who are vaccinated the sooner the community can open up. The goal of the POD staff is to vaccinate 1,200 people this week.
There will be a full day of vaccinations at the POD this Saturday, April 10, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 P.M.
All three vaccines are available, with Pfizer for the 16- and 17-year-olds, and Moderna and Johnson & Johnson available for everyone else. Ernst says the Pfizer vaccine will expire Sunday morning, so if it is still available in the afternoon, that will be given to the general population.
Mayor Ken Tedford and Chairman Pete Olsen attended the event, cutting the ribbon. Olsen said, “I got to cut the ribbon, but we have the best staff, they live here, they care about our community and they do an amazing job.”
Mayor Tedford gave the credit to the county, saying, “Shannon and Jim and their staff deserve all the credit. They’ve done a massive job, and we helped, we are glad to pitch in, but really this is an awesome set up and the best of any rural community you can find.” He said this vaccine saves lives and will help get us back to normal. “I respect the people who don’t want to have the vaccine. We respect different views on a lot of things in life, but I’m certainly happy when people get the vaccines so we can get back to normal, the sooner the better.”