The Delaware doctor brings COVID-19 vaccines to your doorstep

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MINQUADALE, Del. (AP) – Quintina Bolling did a happy dance.

“I got my vaccination,” she cheered, waving the white card in the air and sharing the news with her neighbors from the open door of a motel room at the Best Night Inn.

Bolling was there to visit her friend, Lavinia Smallwood, without ever thinking that she would be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while sitting and chatting with her friend.

But when Dr. Sandra Gibney and her team of vaccinators, including Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, came knocking on the door, they thought why not. That way, there was no need to schedule an appointment online or drive to a mass vaccination clinic. They were protected against coronavirus at the time.

“It’s a blessing,” Bolling, 58, said with a smile on her face.

She and Smallwood were two of dozens who were vaccinated as the outreach team made their way to the Route 9 motel, along with other nearby motels. It is a strategy that Gibney and Hall-Long have also used to combat the addiction epidemic in Delaware. They just go where the people are.

This time, along with medication to reverse the overdose naloxone and food bags, women also stocked up on COVID-19 vaccines.

The outreach effort followed a vaccine clinic on the North DuPont freeway at the Red Roof Inn, where the state places people with emergency vouchers until they can find more stable accommodation. Anyone staying at the hotel, including the 44 people who lived there with vouchers, received the vaccine for free.

It is another effort to bring the vaccines to the people who need them most, especially to those people who may have difficulty accessing information, getting to a mass vaccination clinic, or having doubts about getting the vaccine in the first place.

And there was a lot of hesitation Monday afternoon from people from all backgrounds.

Some had heard of problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was recently renewed to be used nationwide after reports of women experiencing blood clots after vaccination. The first vaccination event was held on Monday in which this specific vaccine was made available again, Hall-Long said, although the Modern vaccine was also offered.

Others said they didn’t think the vaccine was long enough to really know what side effects they might experience. Some worried about feeling bad afterwards, while a few just shook their heads and said, “I’m fine.”

A man who refused to provide his name said that if it was 100% of the vaccine and its effectiveness, he would get it at a heart rate. But it still wasn’t.

His roommate and friend, on the other hand, were thrilled to see Gibney and his team at the door of the Red Roof Inn hotel room. Wearing an American flag mask, Russell Lowmax waved the team and said he had been waiting for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be accessible to him.

His friend has taken care of him and the two have called the hotel home for the past month. They hope to enter their home soon, they said.

At the back of the hallway, Deborah Williams felt relieved because the vaccine she had underlined for access came straight to her door. Without a car and without being able to drive, the 62-year-old woman thanked the medical team for its protection against COVID-19.

“It would have been hard to get a vaccine,” said Williams, who has lived at the Red Roof Inn for 6 months, with his belongings packed in the hotel room.

The vaccine let her breathe a sigh of relief.

“We’re here to take care of them,” Gibney said, and that comes without trial.

Take the three young people from the Budget Inn, one of whom wanted nothing to do with the vaccine. But his two friends, both in their early twenties, changed their minds after talking to Gibney.

One said his parents wanted him to receive the vaccine. They would be happy to know he finally got it, he said.

And for every yes, there were many more Mondays of no. It is part of the spread and helps people slowly overcome mistrust of medicine in a stressful year. But after each door knock, Gibney shook his head and moved on to the next.

“They won’t frustrate me,” he said, with his superhero sneakers toward the next door.

In his eyes, it’s how you save your life.

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