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WCU prepares to open COVID vaccine clinic

Cortnee Lingerfelt. Cortnee Lingerfelt. WCU photo

With freezers now on campus, staff in place, and volunteers on the way, Western Carolina University is in the final stages of preparations to open a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, targeting a Feb. 18 opening date.

The university will learn later this week how many vaccines it will be receiving. The vaccines will be stored in two recently installed specialty freezers. Once the vaccines arrive, WCU plans to open the clinic late next week, said Courtnee Lingerfelt, director of WCU’s regional COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

“Things are moving fast,” Lingerfelt said. “We have the equipment that we need. We have the supplies that we need. And we are working on getting the people that we need. I think that we will be ready to roll by Feb. 18.”

The clinic will operate out of WCU’s Health and Human Sciences building on Little Savannah Road and aims to administer 500 vaccines per day. Initially, WCU will work with the Jackson County Department of Public Health to reduce its backlog of residents seeking to get vaccines. Once that backlog is cleared, the clinic will begin adding appointments in compliance with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidelines, which are currently focused on those in priority Groups 1 and 2. The clinic, which will serve all residents of Western North Carolina, will operate by appointment only.

The clinic initially plans to be open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Expansion of days and times will be reevaluated as vaccine supply and staffing allows.

“We’re very grateful to be partnering with the Jackson County Health Department,” Lingerfelt said. “They are sharing processes with us. That’s been fantastic.”

The clinic also is partnering with Southwestern Community College as a clinical site for its nursing and health care students.

Details on how to sign up for the vaccine will be forthcoming. Anyone wanting work as a volunteer can learn more at engagement.wcu.edu/vaccine.

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