JEFFERSON — Despite a halt in performances due to COVID-19, The Ashe Civic Center once again has people walking through its doors. The venue has gained a new purpose as a vaccination site.

The first day of vaccinations, which are by appointment, was Feb. 10. According to Arts Council Executive Director Jeff Fissel and Program Director Rebecca Williams, the health department is welcome to use the building for as long as they need it.

“We are very appreciative of the Ashe Civic Center and Ashe County for allowing us to use the space for COVID-19 vaccinations,” said Director of Communications & Compliance Melissa Bracey on behalf of AppHealthCare.

The use of the space has allowed AppHealthCare staff to vaccinate more people than what they were previously able to by drive-through at the health department. At the Civic Center, staff are able to create space between people indoors to allow for at least six feet of distance and maintain an efficient traffic to get people in and out.

“We also appreciate the indoor space to allow our staff, volunteers and those being vaccinated to not have to battle the cold, windy weather,” Bracey said.

Ashe County Arts Council and Civic Center volunteers provide lunch for the health department staff each day vaccination clinics are held. According to Williams, there has been an average of about 11 total volunteer and AppHealthCare staff members each day to ensure the process runs smoothly for all.

The clinics begin at 9 a.m. and run until about 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The duration of each day depends on the number of doses that are available.

Williams described it as a “smooth process.”

Upon entering the building, people check in with a volunteer before making their way backstage to wait their turn to be vaccinated onstage. After vaccines are administered, people take a seat in the auditorium to be monitored for 15 minutes so that medical staff are available in case of any adverse reactions. Once the 15 minutes are up, people exit the building through a side door into the parking lot.

Employees of Environmental Health Services helped direct traffic outside. Volunteers from other agencies also help AppHealthCare staff throughout the day.

The building allows for a steady, safe and easy traffic flow. All areas of the building are also handicap accessible, making it convenient for everyone.

“The Ashe County Arts Council has really gone above and beyond by not only helping us with a space, but also helping us with feeding staff and volunteers,” said Director of Communications & Compliance Melissa Bracey on behalf of AppHealthCare. “Their efforts to support the public health efforts in our community are so appreciated.”

in addition to the Arts Council, they are also grateful to Ashe County Schools for allowing them to use the high school for larger vaccination events. ACHS allows for a greater number of people to be vaccinated and AppHealthCare is thankful for their partnership with ACS and their willingness and generosity in allowing use of the space.

There will be another mass vaccination event on Saturday, Feb. 20 at ACHS and those who received their first dose on Jan. 23 will be invited to get their second dose at this event.

According to Bracey, AppHealthCare is also planning to open up additional appointments for this event to give first doses with the vaccine supply it is expected to receive the week of Feb. 15. She added that any additional appointment slots will be dependent on vaccine supply.

The Ashe Civic Center is located at 962 Mt Jefferson Road in West Jefferson. To fill out the COVID-19 vaccine interest form, visit www.apphealthcare.com/covid-19-vaccinations/

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