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Residents flock to COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Alpena Mall

News Photo by Julie Riddle With the event recorded for posterity by her mother-in-law, Rogers City resident Riconda Lamb is given a bandage from nurse Ann Lorenzi after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic at the Alpena Mall on Monday.

ALPENA — A crowd formed early at a Monday vaccination clinic at the Alpena Mall, where about 300 people had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination by noon, according to health officials.

The vaccine requires two doses to be fully effective. It is currently open to health care workers, first responders, teachers and other child care workers, and those 65 and older.

In the first hour of Monday’s appointment-only clinic, a line of people waiting for shots snaked through the hallway and out the door of the mall, according to Matt Radocy, emergency preparedness coordinator for District Health Department No. 4.

The mall provided an ideal environment for the clinic, Radocy said. Vacant storefronts served as a registration stop, vaccination room, and waiting area to allow those receiving the vaccination to make sure they had no reactions before leaving the building.

Nobody at Monday’s clinic had any immediate reaction to the vaccine, Radocy said.

Health Department workers and four National Guardsmen who assisted at the event received a lot of thank-yous for their work, Radocy reported. Those waiting for the vaccine seemed cheerful and patient as they waited in a line that moved quickly and efficiently through the mall.

Heather Kowalski, a teacher consultant for the Cheboygan-Otsego-Presque Isle Educational Service District, was among a large contingent of teachers and other school workers vaccinated on Monday.

She was excited to get the vaccine as a way to protect the kids in the schools where she works, Kowalski said.

Jeanette Stowinski, an instruction assistant at Alpena schools, stood with her father as he waited to be vaccinated. She hasn’t yet gotten a call to tell her when she can be vaccinated, but she’s eager to do so when the time comes, she said.

“It’s a way to help others that can’t get a shot,” Stowinski said. “It’s going to save them, in the long run.”

Rogers City resident Riconda Lamb, eligible for the current round of vaccinations as a volunteer hospice worker, received a call Monday morning saying she had an appointment that day. Her next appointment, for the followup vaccination shot, was made right away, she said.

Lamb’s mother-in-law, Janet Lamb, was along for moral support but hasn’t yet been notified of a vaccination time slot, although her age qualifies her to receive a vaccination soon.

“I just wanted to sneak in there and say, ‘Poke me, too,'” Janet Lamb said after her daughter-in-law’s vaccination, which took only seconds and was painless, according to Riconda Lamb.

The Health Department is conducting vaccination clinics throughout the week, including clinics in Atlanta on Wednesday and Millersburg on Friday. Another Alpena clinic will be held on Saturday at Alpena Community College.

Area residents who have registered for an appointment will be called when they are scheduled for vaccination.

Coronavirus data for Alpena, Presque Isle, and Montmorency counties was not updated by local health officials on Monday.

Officials, meanwhile, reported 90 newly infected Alcona County residents, after on Friday reducing by 86 the cumulative number of infected residents of that county.

Officials could not be reached for comment about the mixup in Alcona County.

As of Saturday, 3,731 doses of coronavirus vaccine had been administered in Northeast Michigan, according to state data.

As of Monday, 56 people were hospitalized with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection across the state-designated, 18-county health care region that includes Alpena, Presque Isle, and Montmorency counties, according to state data.

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