ELIZABETHTOWN, N.C. (WECT) – Tensions were rising during the Bladen County Commissioners meeting Monday night after frustrations over a vaccine event that happened Saturday.
Mount Calvary Center hosted the vaccine event in Elizabethtown, giving out $100 gift cards for anyone who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly 200 people showed up, but dozens walked away because they said the process of getting a shot was taking too long. The organization had plenty of vaccines to give, but only one person there to administer them.
Commissioner G. Michael Cogdell said he called both the county health director and EMS director, trying to get additional medical staff at the event. He wanted them to assist in administering vaccines, but both refused because it was not a county sponsored event.
“To me it was disgusting, disgraceful that the county of Bladen did not support this event, I just can’t understand it,” Cogdell said. “And when we had an opportunity to vaccinate all these people, we did not come out and support that issue.”
Commissioner Cogdell says it wasn’t clear at the time why county officials wouldn’t help out Saturday afternoon, but during Monday’s meeting commissioners made it clear that they had previously voted against paying people to get vaccinated.
“We’re not gonna pay people to get the vaccination,” said commissioner Charles Peterson. “No, no, we’re not gonna support anybody being paid for the vaccinations.”
Others noted the county officials would have needed prior approval from the commissioners to attend the event. “Without the OK from county commissioners to do and to perform and be involved in injections or things of that nature without us approving it for Dr. Duncan or for Mr. Dowless or for anybody else in supervision. This would have to come before, she would have to ask, we would have to give permission,” said commissioner Ray Britt.
Commissioners Cogdell and Bullock voiced frustration that county leaders would not support this vaccination event, hoping to see a change in the future. “We need to work together for the betterment of the community,” said Bullock. Commissioner Danny Ellis reminded them that vaccines are available for free at the health department. “I would just like to say to your group, and just at large, the health department, they are open everyday. [Dr. Duncan] has worked her tail off, going here, there, and everywhere getting these vaccines done. . .Everyday, all day. They have events, People are free to go to the health department to get shots.”
The conversation wrapped up with commissioner Cogdell hopeful that county leaders and staff can communicate better in the future so they can have more successful vaccine events throughout Bladen County.
“So I’m hoping we can develop a better relationship with outside vendors, or anyone that’s coming in that trying to enhance and protect the medical services of Bladen County,” Cogdell said.
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