Our community is pulling together to kick COVID-19 to the curb, and I am proud to not only watch it happen but also be a part of it.

Now a designated state vaccine hub, Angelina County is receiving nearly double the amount of vaccine for each clinic compared to a week ago. More people are receiving their first shots, and now second shots are being given.

Thankfully, I am not in one of the at-risk categories and have not received the vaccination yet, but I was glad to participate in Thursday’s clinic — volunteering to help the Angelina County & Cities Health District vaccinate 1,150 friends and neighbors.

It was great to be a small part of what is a very, very large project.

Throughout the morning, it was evident much thought, planning and organization went into how the clinic would operate. It ran smoothly despite Thursday being the first time organizers were tackling such a large number to be vaccinated.

Sharon Shaw, health district administrator, Jane Ainsworth, coordinator of the non-medical volunteers, and Patricia Jones, coordinator of the volunteer medical personnel, put on the clinic that ran smoothly, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with few hiccups along the way.

As a screener, I checked the forms each person filled out in order to get their vaccine. There are a few medical questions asked and then two forms that ask pretty much the same information: name, address, age, etc., and mother’s first and maiden name. Each form goes into a different governmental database so, yes, it’s important to be redundant — at least this one time.

There were a few who balked at providing their mother’s information, and I was one — at first.

However, I do understand the information ensures you are you and not someone with your same name. This allows everyone to be tracked properly to receive the second dose.

In the first hour of Thursday’s operation, 225 people were vaccinated and by the end of the second hour, 433.

Shaw, in her speech to rally the volunteers prior to opening the doors, said she wanted to vaccinate 90 people every 30 minutes.

Kudos to the volunteers — they not only met the goal, they exceeded it by giving 1,150 first vaccines in seven hours.

Prior to becoming a hub, Angelina County held four vaccination clinics in January — providing about 600 shots per clinic. Those residents are now returning for their second shots.

The health district expects to receive between 1,100 and 1,200 shots per week with the possibility to upwards of 2,000 each week once the electronic registration system is up and running. Currently, to get on the health district’s list to receive a vaccine, residents need to call 630-8500 to schedule an appointment. The phones are being answered between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. weekdays. However, they will not be taking calls Monday.

To keep up with the demand and to vaccinate our community as quickly and easily as possible, volunteers are needed.

Nope, no medical experience is necessary — for some of the jobs. Well, actually, most of the jobs. Help is needed with registration/parking, screeners, escorts, ImmTrac coders (putting information into the database).

On the medical side, at least 15 clinical volunteers and 18 non-clinical personnel, all of whom need a current RN, LVN or pharmacist license, are needed at each clinic. These jobs include vaccinators, vaccine drawers and a medical director for the observation room. You see, once you get the shot, you have to wait a minimum of 15 minutes to be sure there are no issues with the shot. A medical professional will check on you before you leave.

Ainsworth said at a minimum, 33 non-medical support people are needed at every shot clinic but it would be optimum to have at least six more people helping than she had Thursday.

This is not going to be a quick process. They expect to be giving shots at least through September.

So, Angelina County, it’s time to roll up your sleeves.

With that many months of work ahead of us and thousands of people yet to be vaccinated, there are many, many opportunities to lend a hand.

Let’s show the rest of the state what Angelina County can do by pulling together to put an end to this virus so we can all go maskless again.

Jackie Zimmerman is publisher of The Lufkin Daily News. Her email address is jackie.zimmerman@lufkindailynews.com.