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MHM restarts walk-in vaccination program this week

While many areas open back up from COVID lockdowns, there have been increased fears over a potential surge of the Delta variant, as well as concerns over vaccine effectiveness. Memorial Hospital and Manor CEO Jim Lambert, Infection Preventionist Lee Johnson and Director of Development Lauren Harrell sat down with the Post Searchlight to discuss the current situation in Decatur County.

“We are definitely seeing Covid cases increase,” Lambert said, “As of today we have seven patients in the hospital, which is probably the most we’ve had in the hospital since the end of the year.”

According to Lambert, none of the patients currently in the hospital are vaccinated. “Our employees are 50% vaccinated,” Lambert stated. Johnson elaborated, saying, “We’re slowly but surely increasing. We’re at 50, but that’s one of the reasons we opened the clinic up, to make it easier. I’ve had numerous employees tell me if we started doing it again, they would get it here.”

According to Johnson, of the people over the last month who tested positive for Covid, one had been vaccinated.

“They were sick enough to go to the emergency room, but not sick enough to be hospitalized,” he said. “With all of the different Covid vaccines, you can get ‘re-infected’ or test positive for Covid,” Lambert stated. “But if you get vaccinated for Covid, the symptoms rarely require hospitalization.”

In response to the increase of cases, the hospital has brought back their vaccinations, as of this Wednesday. “We’re going to start vaccinating again because we are seeing a rise in Covid,” Lambert said, “And we want to make sure that our community has another opportunity to get the vaccination.”

The hospital will also be looking into why people are hesitant to get vaccinated. “We’re trying to figure out why people are hesitant, other than what they read on the Internet,” he said. “While it is true that it is unknown if there are long-term effects of the vaccine, there is no indication that there are significant complications of getting the vaccine itself,” Harrell said.

“I know one reason I’m glad we started our clinic back,” Johnson said, “is because I can’t tell you how many times when we had the clinic before, people would say they felt much more comfortable getting the vaccine at the hospital.”

The hospital is currently offering the Moderna vaccine. Anybody looking to get it can enter through the front lobby; they are no longer restricted to entering through the ER doors. Times for vaccines are from 2:00 to 4:00, no appointment necessary.