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Effingham Hospital takes COVID-19 vaccine on the road
COVID-19 vaccine
If there is a way we can go to them, we will. We are going to hit it hard in the next 30 days.
LaMeisha Hunter Kelly, executive director of Strategic Business Development and Government Relations at Effingham Health System
LaMeisha Hunter Kelly
LaMeisha Hunter Kelly - photo by Photo submitted

GUYTON — Effingham Hospital helped Pastor Lon Harden tend to his flock.

A unit from the hospital visited Harden’s Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday to administer COVID-19 shots.

“This our first (mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinic),” said LaMeisha Hunter Kelly, Effingham Health System’s executive director of Strategic Business Development and Government Relations. “The hospital is providing the vaccine and so we are just trying to increase efforts to provide the vaccine. Our idea is to take it to the community.”

 According to Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) statistics available Monday, 35 percent of Georgians are fully vaccinated. Forty-one percent have received at least one dose.

President Biden set a national goal of a 70 percent vaccination rate by July 4. Most analysts predict the country will fall a tad short of that mark.

Effingham Hospital intends to boost local vaccinations efforts. According to the DPH, just 23 percent of Effingham County residents have received full doses.

“If anyone is interested — if some group is having an event — we want to be accommodating,” Kelly said. “If there is a way we can go to them, we will. We are going to hit it hard in the next 30 days.”

Harden’s church, which includes Kelly, has a large population of older adults, including several who are at least 90. The nonagenarians are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

“I think we have nine (over 90) — and they are active members, too,” Harden said. “We’ve got some in their 80s and 70s, too — pretty much every age group.”

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the one administered at Harden’s church, has been approved for everyone 12 and older. Hospital staffers will return July 10 to deliver second doses to complete the vaccination process.

In addition to encouraging church members to get vaccinated, Harden has taken other measures to protect his congregants.

“We are back in service but with social distancing and limited capacity (50 percent),” he said. 

Harden’s sermons are available on social media but the senior citizens prefer to be in church.

“They were the first ones here (when some restrictions were eased),” Harden said.

COVID-19 precautions forced Harden to get a Facebook page in order to stay in touch with church members. He still uses it to present sermons to an extended audience.

“I was kind of sluggish,” Harden joked. “Everybody in my house had (Facebook) but I was like, nah. But when the pandemic hit, it became useful for me.”

During the early stages of the pandemic, Harden delivered his messages in an empty sanctuary.

“At first, it was tough,” Harden said, “because they are always going to joke, ‘Amen, walls,’ Amen, ceiling’, because I was actually in there by myself. When you understand your purpose, though, that overshadows everything else.

“It’s about getting (the gospel) out even in the pandemic.”

Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

To inquire about a mobile vaccination clinic, contact Kelly at 912-210-2667 or