Deb and Brad Lauderman were going to walk about a mile through snowy streets to get their first COVID-19 vaccine in Ephrata if that’s what it took.
“If they were giving shots, we were going to be here,” Brad said, noting he and his wife, both 65, want to be protected for their health and so that they can see their family, including two grandchildren.
William Parson got up early and cleaned the snow off his car so he could make it to the hospital from his Lancaster home to get his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He’s 62 and has had two open-heart surgeries.
“I wasn’t going to miss this if I could help it,” he said. “Determined. That’s how I felt.”
The Laudermans and Parson were among about 240 tenacious souls who shoveled, cleared snow from their cars and safely made it to their COVID-19 vaccine appointments Monday at the WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital vaccination site, after snow fell overnight Sunday and continued to fall in the first and most significant nor’easter of 2021.
“We had people waiting out in the parking lot at 5:15 a.m.,” said Lauren Fund, pharmacy operations manager at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital, which began giving vaccines at 6 a.m. Monday. “People are very excited.”
WellSpan Health had provided nearly 37,000 appointments through Sunday, including first and second doses. It has another 48,000 vaccines scheduled through early March. The vaccinations are now available to health care workers, EMS first responders, long-term care facility residents, people age 65 and older, and people age 16 to 64 with certain medical conditions.
WellSpan hospitals were among the first in the state to receive vaccine shipments, working collaboratively with the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s phased approach to vaccine distribution. As of today, there are 22 WellSpan vaccination sites located across Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York Counties, with plans to open additional locations in later phases of distribution.
In Ephrata, a steady stream of people showed up to get the vaccine Monday, wearing masks and waiting patiently for their turn to roll up their sleeve.
Carol Erb started checking her email Sunday, as the snow started falling, hopeful that the vaccination site would not be closed due to the weather. Because of Monday’s forecast, WellSpan did close sites early, but team members called those with appointments and urged them to come in early if they could, working to accommodate them.
Erb did not want to be derailed from getting the vaccine and made arrangements to get to the hospital.
“I’m wimpy about driving in the snow,” she said. “My daughter drove me here. She’s sitting in the car, waiting for me.”
The Laudermans said they were so grateful to be getting their vaccine, noting it felt like they won the lottery. They were able to drive to the hospital from their Ephrata home.
Parson said, “I felt very, very fortunate to get an appointment. Emotional, too. It was a sense of relief. While I realize we are not out of the woods yet, this seems like a positive first step.”