Health officials hope weekend hours help increase vaccinations at Bessemer site

COVID vaccine clinic open in Bessemer on weekends

BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - It’s the first weekend for the mass drive through vaccination site at Watermark Place in Bessemer. It is one of the only sites in Jefferson County with weekend hours.

Officials with FEMA said on Sunday, April 25th, the site did 194 vaccines, which is the most since launching earlier this week.

“If we have too many spots available, I am OK with that,” Dr. Wesley Willeford with the Jefferson County Health Department said. “I would rather have the option there for people who want it than not to have it at all.”

The mass vaccination site at Watermark Place in Bessemer can do 7,000 vaccines a week, but in its first few days open, it gave out more than 700.

“We know there may be some days where we don’t get all 1,000 or so appointments filled, but that is OK,” Willeford said. “We want people to know that it is there. We want people to know the option is there and that it is highly recommended.”

Willeford said he hopes the weekend hours help.

“I really think that is going to open opportunities for people who just can’t get off of work during the week and I really hope this makes it a lot easier for them,” he said.

Birmingham resident Lucy Damian said the weekend hours were why she came to the site. “We have long hours and work days,” she said. “Sometimes some of the places stop at a certain time and during the week, you are busy working, but on the weekend, you at least have the Sunday or Saturday off to come get it done.”

Damian said she was hesitant to get her vaccine, but doctors on-site helped reassure her.

“I have a compromised immune system,” Damian said. “I was kind of iffy about it and scared about it. They reassured me everything was going to be OK. I took it and it doesn’t hurt at all. They just make you stay a little longer if you have some issues going on with your health.”

No appointments, insurance, or ID is necessary. Willeford said anyone in the state can come to the site and it only takes about 20 minutes.

“I think it’s a big step forward that we have been able to make to where we don’t have to do the appointments,” Willeford said. “I think that takes away another barrier to get the vaccine.”

Damian said she got the vaccine to help protect her family. “I have a mom that has diabetes, so keeping myself safe and myself free from COVID helps them stay better health wise,” she said.

Officials with the health department said the site will be staying open an extra hour this coming Tuesday and Thursday, not closing until 6pm, for those just getting off work.

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