COVINGTON — The Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Department’s mass vaccination site for the COVID-19 vaccine is now open to walk-ins as well as pre-registered patients.

The site opened on April 19 for the public on an appointment-only basis. However, as demand has slowed, there are more vaccines readily available for anyone who walks up to the site, located at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, 8100 Bob Williams Pkwy., Covington. Walk-in vaccinations are available from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.

The mass vaccination site is set up to administer 600 doses of the vaccine each day. Those who want to make an appointment should go to www.gnrhealth.com — links to a state registration system or call 888-457-0186.

The Health Department has also announced it is able to send mobile teams to large groups or organizations. Any businesses, communities, churches, daycares, schools, etc. in need of vaccines can contact Dr. Audrey Arona at audrey.arona@gnrhealth.com to set up a mobile vaccination unit.

In addition to the mass vaccination site at Georgia Piedmont, the Health Department is operating mass vaccination sites at the following locations:

Monday-SaturdayGwinnett Place Mall — Former Sears – 2100 Pleasant Hill Rd, Duluth, GA 30096

Thursday-SaturdaySpringfield Baptist Church, 1877 Iris Dr SE, Conyers, GA 30013

The Health Department also provides the following information for vaccine recipients:

What to bring

♦ Insurance card, if applicable. If you do not have insurance, there is still no cost to you. You will not be turned away.

♦ Identification, if applicable. If you do not have an ID, you will not be turned away.

♦ Appointment confirmation

♦ Someone to assist you, if needed

♦ Personal mobility devices such as wheelchairs, canes, etc., if needed

♦ If you are pregnant, please bring a note from your OB to your appointment

What to wear

Vaccinations are given in the upper arm. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that will allow access to your upper arm while maintaining a reasonable amount of modesty.

Masks, consistent with CDC guidance, are required throughout the vaccination site.

♦ Most homemade and store bought masks are appropriate and provide a level of protection for both the wearer and those around them. This includes the gaiter style face coverings which are sufficient if they are made of two layers.

♦ Face shields alone do not meet these requirements; it is acceptable to wear a shield in addition to a face covering.

♦ Face coverings with a vent or exhaust valve do not meet this requirement.

What to expect

♦ When you arrive to the vaccination site, we request that you remain in your vehicle until 10 minutes before your appointment time.

♦ When you approach the vaccination site entrance, an individual will confirm your appointment before allowing you inside. Individuals without appointments will not receive vaccine.

♦ Please have your insurance card and identification ready, if applicable, at check-in. There is no charge for vaccine. Insurance will be filed, if available. This will not result in a charge to you.

♦ Your second dose appointment will made at check-in.

♦ Prior to receiving your vaccine, please let someone know if you need to use the restroom. After receiving the vaccine, you will not ♦ be able to leave the observation area for any reason for 15-30 minutes.

♦ When your observation period is complete, visit the check-out area before you leave.

Second-dose appointments

Second-dose appointments are made during the first-appointment visit.

Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require individuals to return for a second vaccine after a few weeks of receiving the first dose to increase the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Individuals do not need to have the second dose exactly at the interval recommended by the vaccine manufacturer. Vaccine experts have said there is no reason to think the second dose won’t be as effective if it is not received in a narrow window of time. Therefore, if the second dose of the vaccine is administered >3 weeks after the first Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine dose or >1 month after the first Moderna vaccine dose, there is no need to restart the series.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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