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LVHN gives 3,000 shots at raceway

Lehigh Valley Health Network, with enough Moderna vaccine to put into over 3,000 waiting arms, joined forces with Pocono Raceway to make it happen on Saturday.

The mass drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination site at the raceway began vaccinating at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday to those in the Phase 1A vaccination group by appointment only. Phase 1A is the first vaccine distribution step.

“We have hundreds of volunteers here, and we’re here all day,” said Elizabeth Wise, president of Lehigh Valley Hospital-Pocono.

A smooth process

The registration was six lines of nine cars, and then it was a short move ahead to receive the shot. It only took most people in line 15 minutes to register and to be vaccinated.

It was then off to the waiting area, where they waited for 15 minutes to make sure there were no reactions to the vaccine. People from Carbon, Monroe and surrounding areas were in attendance.

Lehigh Valley has between 150 and 200 staff and volunteers to make the clinic work. The Pocono Mountain Ambulance, Pocono Regional Police and the Red Cross were on hand to assist.

“I booked my appointment right away and it couldn’t have been any easier,” said Robert Rich, who lives in Upper Bucks County.

While waiting the 15 minutes after their shots, Bart and Michael Schmizt of Nazareth said, “We feel awesome, it’s so organized.”

Kathy and Bob Bondi, from Bethlehem, were all smiles, because after the second shot they will finally be able to hug their grandchild.

The general feeling you got when talking with the people after they received their shot was a feeling of relief and hope that life might return normal again.

“The weather could not have been nicer, and everything is running smoothly,” said Brian Downs, public relations officer for Lehigh Valley Hospital.

This was the first Mass COVID-19 vaccination session in Monroe County at Pocono Raceway, and Downs said it was a great way to get a large number vaccinated.

He said not everyone is able to travel to a mass vaccination site, and not everyone wants to.

“We are fortunate that Bennett Toyota in Allentown donated four vans to Lehigh Valley Hospital and we will be going out into the rural areas to provide the vaccine to people who don’t have transportation, or are not able to travel outside their home,” he said.

Cars wait in the lanes to get their shots. AMY LEAP/TIMES NEWS
Cars move slowly toward the registration area where six lines of cars were registered efficiently before moving to the vaccination tent. See a photo gallery at tnonline.com. AMY LEAP/TIMES NEWS
Lehigh Valley Hospital RN Claire Mackes registers the patient's information into the computer.