Lebanon County’s mass coronavirus vaccination site opens for business today with the first 1,000 scheduled local residents slated to be inoculated over a 12-hour period.

A total of 3,000 individuals who qualify under Phase 1A as essential and non-essential and who have registered through the county’s registration portal at www.lcdes.org will be vaccinated through the end of the week.

Jamie Wolgemuth, Chief Clerk/County Administrator said all 3,000 appointments were secured in a 16- to 18-hour period from Monday evening through Tuesday morning after individuals, who had pre-registered for vaccination notifications at www.lcdes.org, received an email blast noting that appointments were available.

Although no appointments remain for the rest of this week, it is expected that more doses will be available next week for those who have preregistered at the county’s Department of Emergency Services’ vaccination web page. Individuals must still secure an appointment upon receiving email notification that time slots are available.

“The best way to get notified, and this is true for what we get and for any other provider that comes along from here on out, is to go to our website for the Department of Emergency Services and get registered,” Wolgemuth said. “That does not mean they will get a vaccine; what it does mean is that they will get a mass email as we get information.”

Wolgemuth said that’s exactly what happened for this first round of mass vaccination notifications.

‘Everyone who had signed up on our email list was informed last night (Monday) and it was like a feeding frenzy,” Wolgemuth said. “Everyone goes to the link they received, get signed up (for an appointment) and now those 3,000 who did sign up will have an appointment this Wednesday (today), Thursday or Friday.”

Wolgemuth emphasized that registering is important since that is the best method for county residents to learn about vaccine availability. He added that the county’s role in the mass vaccination program is to simply provide a large space, security, available parking and, of course, a web-based portal for county residents to receive notifications and an appointment calendar to officially register for a vaccine.

“The county is providing a roof over the heads of the health care staff who are here to provide their services,” Wolgemuth said. There is plenty of parking and there will be security here. But the medical side of the equation is the responsibility of the providers.”

The county commissioners had voted on March 4 to secure the mass vaccination site during its bi-weekly meeting, and county workers within the county’s EMS department began work that same day to prep the 120,000-square-foot site, which is located in the former Kmart building in the 1700 block of Quentin Road in North Cornwall Township.
“The floors were redone – stripped and waxed. HVAC was worked on, and cables were brought in,” Wolgemuth said. “We basically took an empty box of a building and made it functional with connectivity, cleanliness and we also put up dividers and directional signs and other signage. The last two weeks have seen plenty of pallets of equipment with technology come through those doors and DES staff has been working to make the site functional.”

On Tuesday afternoon, EMS staff was still onsite putting the finishing touches for opening day and were expected to work until late in the evening. Wolgemuth added the county signed a four-month lease for the building and has month-to-month availability should the mass vaccination site be needed beyond the initial lease period.

“It’s like Christmas Eve around here, like putting up the tree, as we work to get everything finalized,” said Wolgemuth, who was interviewed via telephone while he was at the site.

When asked about the health care provider who will be onsite this week, Wolgemuth said it is Lititz-based CNS Occupational Medicine, who will be administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Since that vaccine is administered in two doses, those who are inoculated this week will be scheduled for a second vaccination 28 days later.

The county has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), at the request of the county commissioners, with WellSpan Health, and Wolgemuth said he expects other providers will sign an MOU as more dosages become available for distribution in the coming weeks and months.

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...