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Instead of celebrating a touchdown at “The Swamp,” more than 1,100 people celebrated a shot in the arm

Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 10:56 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - More than 1,100 people received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine inside the iconic Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

“I wanted to protect myself as well as other people,” said William Lundy, an Alachua County resident who received his shot at “The Swamp” during the massive vaccination event.

While many people were coming through the doors, there was very little wait time, according to Lundy.

“It’s faster than I anticipated. I was supposed to be here at 3 PM, but I got here 15 minutes early, and they just took me right away. I haven’t even been here 20 minutes yet, and I’m done.”

With the massive turnout, Lundy believes people are taking advantage of the opportunity.

“I was surprised to see as many people today [Friday] as I do. That means that people are really thinking. Now that it is made possible, people are really taking advantage of it.”

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Paul Myers, the Administrator for the Department of Health in Alachua County, explains the limiting factor has always been the number of vaccines, not the logistics or the safety of getting people vaccinated. When they start getting larger quantities, they know where to go.

“If and when we ever do get to the point where we can do 5,000, 10,000 people, this is a great facility to try and do that.”

Myers said vaccines in Alachua County are certainly not going to waste as the Health Department in the county receives them. They go in people’s arms. According to Myers, the vaccines are not exclusive to Alachua County residents.

“A fair number of people are coming to Alachua County from other counties because they just can’t get access for whatever reason.”

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Jeff Hall and his wife traveled to the vaccination event at “The Swamp” from their home in Yankeetown. Six weeks after they both had COVID-19, they were ready to get their shot and saID others shouldn’t be afraid.

“It is a thing to do for society, and if we are going to defeat covid, everyone needs to be vaccinated.”

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Lundy has a message for people in the minority community.

“Forget the fear. I’ve heard a lot of people say, ‘Oh, you don’t know what you are getting in your body.’ I always think back you don’t know what is going in your body every day that you don’t see. So what have you got to lose.”

With one more shot to go, Hall and his wife are looking forward to the future.

“We like to travel. We had to cancel our trip to Scotland last year. We’re going to feel hopefully a little bit better about maybe getting on an airplane this spring.”

The Department of Health in Alachua County also partnered with Santa Fe College for a vaccination event on Friday. They administered more than 200 doses to people 65 and older, including students, staff, and other members of the college community.

To find out more information about scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine in Alachua County, click here.

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