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Editorial: Community vaccine clinic shows how we can work together against COVID-19
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Tanja Strickler prepares to give a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, during the Hall County Health Department's vaccine clinic at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center. - photo by Scott Rogers

“Community” is such a useful word.

It can denote a geographic area, a group with similar areas of interest, a coalition of entities working together, a commitment to a common goal.

School community. Arts community. Business community. Spiritual community. Local community.

It is a word that conveys a sense of unity, and by doing so reflects the power that comes from people working together.

Wednesday, residents of the area will have an opportunity to take advantage of a “Community Vaccine Day” as part of the ongoing effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and the more traditional flu. The nomenclature of the event reflects the use of “community” in all the best ways.

Community Vaccine Day

What: COVID-19 and flu vaccinesavailable along with prizes as part of community effort

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 6

Where: Gainesville Civic Center, 830 Green St. NE, Gainesville

Presented as part of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s ongoing Health Smart series of programs and made possible by the combined efforts of health care providers and business sponsors, the event will allow those interested in doing so to get free vaccines, including COVID booster shots for those who qualify.

Thanks to the generosity of a host of local businesses, those participating in the event also will have opportunities to win donated prizes, including televisions, gift cards and cash.

The goal is to improve the overall vaccination rate for the area, which remains far lower than it should be despite the best efforts of local health care officials to convey the importance of vaccination as a means of fighting the virus that created a worldwide pandemic and has killed millions.

Despite what some would believe, there is no underlying political subterfuge in such an event, no conspiracy to do harm, no mandate for forced participation. If you are interested in getting the vaccine and looking for an easy opportunity, this is it. If you choose not to do so, then don’t begrudge those who hope to improve the lives of themselves and their families.

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We think the evidence is overwhelming that the COVID vaccine is the absolute best option for reigning in the disease, reducing the number of people hospitalized, slowing the rate of spread and moving toward some semblance of the sort of normality most of us took for granted just a couple of years ago.

We feel it is vital that we make significant strides toward improving the overall vaccination rate if we are going to avoid an ongoing series of health crises as the virus mutates into different variations in the future, which it almost certainly is going to continue to do.

The county’s rate of vaccination is still only about 43%, which trails the 47% rate for the state, which in turn trails most of the nation. The vast majority of those in the medical field have endorsed vaccination, as has political leadership ranging from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, and yet there are still more people in our area who have not been vaccinated than who have, which is perplexing.

We hope Wednesday’s event will help to change that fact.

The vaccine day set for Oct. 6 is a united effort to improve life in our local community and is the result of the efforts of many diverse segments of the area in which we live.

Kudos to the chamber for driving the train and for all of the participating local health care providers and supportive organizations for being on board — Northeast Georgia Health System, Public Health District 2, Good News Clinics, Longstreet Clinics, Northeast Georgia Physicians Group, Cigna, Northeast Georgia Latino Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Alliance Ga and Fair Street Butler High.

The event at the Gainesville Civic Center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 6 is free. No IDs are required. COVID and flu shots are available. No appointment is needed. There will be prizes.

We hope that if you have not yet done so, you will take advantage of this unique and potentially life-saving opportunity to join a new community — that of the vaccinated.

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