Seniors report smooth sailing for 1st day of vaccinations at Northside center

Center will be able to vaccinate 975 patients over next 2 days

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the doors opened at 9 a.m., more than 100 people were waiting to get their COVID-19 shot Friday morning at the Clanzel T. Brown Senior Center on Moncrief Road.

Some opted to continue to wait in line while others took a voucher that allowed them to return later in the day for their dose.

By 12:30 p.m., about 300 vaccines had been administered. Many of the seniors said they were pleased the city had opened the center for vaccines, even if supply is limited. They said everything went fairly smoothly and no issues were reported.

Many said they would not have gotten the shot if the pop-up clinic had not opened in their Northside neighborhood.

“We were wondering when we were going to get this whole thing in this area,” Rethenia Walton said. “Hopefully we will have other places here on the Northside and people will be able to come.”

Only seniors, health care workers and first responders are eligible for the vaccine. The city said it has 975 doses available for the duration of the two-day pop-up site.

“I wish that they would do more. This is just the cusp of what they need to do,” Wanda Bowman Johnson said as she was waiting in line.

People getting vaccines Friday said they felt fortunate.

“I think it’s very important because all of the seniors don’t have rides to go to all of these other different places. This is more convenient for them. I figured this was closer to me also and I figured I would get mine because definitely, I feel like we need, with the pandemic going on and the lives that are being taken, we need to try to do something,” Gartrell Sirnellar said.

When he announced the site on Thursday, Mayor Lenny Curry said he hoped Jacksonville residents would respect the underserved community’s need for the vaccines.

WATCH: Mayor Curry talks vaccinations in Jacksonville on The Morning Show

Dr. Charles Moreland, director of community and international affairs for the city, said the city was able to set up the clinic quickly after lessons learned from other senior center sites.

“I believe every day that we show up at these sites we should be learning on ways to improve. And what we have demonstrated over here at Clanzel -- yes, we took away the great points that we wanted at the other sites and brought them over here,” Moreland said.

City Council members Ju’Coby Pittman and Sam Newby were out at the senior center, encouraging seniors in the area to get the shot.

“It’s a comfort because people don’t like to go outside of their comfort zone, so having it here in their comfort zone makes a big difference, and I like the fact that we have other organizations coming together like the AME Ministers’ Alliance and JTA to transport the people to come get vaccinated.”

Newby said they are learning from the two-day pop-up site and he expects more locations will be added as soon as the state and federal government release more vaccines.

“Once we get some more doses, we are going to serve the underserved community,” Newby said. “The underserved community definitely needs it.”

No appointments are necessary for vaccinations at the Brown Senior Center, which is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, but to avoid large crowds and to promote social distancing, eligible patients should only visit the vaccination site on the day associated with their birth month:

  • Friday: Birthdays in January through June
  • Saturday: Birthday in July through December

All patients must provide a photo ID that shows their birthdate, while first responders and health care workers should also bring an employee badge.

For convenience, patients will be offered a voucher that allows them to return to the site the same day to receive the vaccine.

Jacksonville Transportation Association Director David Cawton said JTA is providing transportation to the site.

“We have are ReadiRide service door to door service that will pick you up from your house we’ve establish a brand new ready ride zone the northwest zone and the northside ready ride zone this will serve this area for the two days that we have a vaccine access here, but also ReadiRide serves the Regency Square Mall as well,” he said.

JTA said it has direct service to the Clanzel Brown Community Center via Route 3 – Moncrief. It also provides direct service through its Northside ReadiRide Zone and a new Northwest Core ReadiRide Zone established to service the area.

To reserve transportation with ReadiRide call 904-679-4555 at least 24 hours in advance.

The site provides the Pfizer vaccine, so patients must return within 21 days for a second dose. The city is providing a voucher to people who receive the first dose Friday or Saturday.

About the Authors:

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.