By Greg Garrison
Blake Bates, 79, of Selma waited about 40 minutes in his car at Memorial Stadium in Bloch Park near downtown Selma to get a COVID-19 vaccination in his left arm as he sat in his car on Monday morning.
“I was at the library and I decided to drive by and see how crowded it was,” Bates said. “It took about 40 minutes, which wasn’t bad.”
Bates is Black, like most of the others who were waiting in line. Dallas County is nearly 70 percent Black.
Maegan Austin, spokeswoman for the Vaughn Regional Medical Center in Selma, which coordinated mass testing, said hospital workers are not asking about race on the forms people are filling out before they get their shots. But so far, the racial makeup reflects Dallas and the surrounding Black Belt counties.
“It’s going to be about 70 percent Black,” Austin said.
The mass drive-through site in Selma is accepting patients from Dallas, Perry, Marengo, Lowndes and Wilcox, which are all majority Black counties.
“It’s going great, better than expected,” Austin said. “At the rate we’re going, we’ll have our little community taken care of.”
The stadium site led by hospital staff and volunteers, and nursing students from Wallace State Community College, had administered about 900 to 1,000 doses of Moderna vaccine by noon on Monday.
The site is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, through Friday. By Friday, 5,000 doses of vaccine should be administered, Austin said. School teachers were among those getting vaccinated, along with those age 65 and over, those with serious medical issues, and essential workers including utility workers, she said.
She said Vaughn Regional Medical Center began administering vaccines to hospital employees and other front-line workers in December. Through January, the hospital had given out 900 doses, to first responders and medical workers, and those age 70 and over.
As Bates left the site after his shot, a worker shouted to him: “Congratulations!”
Bates said he was relieved to get his shot. “Just the thought of being part of an epidemic is frightening,” he said.