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Emory partners with Atlanta mayor’s office to provide COVID-19 vaccines in Piedmont Park

Emory’s Outbreak Response Team from Rollins School of Public Health partnered with the Atlanta mayor’s office to provide COVID-19 vaccines at a pop-up clinic in Piedmont Park on Sept. 5.

When the Atlanta mayor’s office partnered with event promoter Live Nation to offer free passes to Music Midtown for anyone who got a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic, they turned to the Emory Outbreak Response Team (ORT) from Rollins School of Public Health to help make it happen.

“The mayor’s office called me on Wednesday to see if my team could set up a vaccination clinic in Piedmont Park on Sunday to vaccinate up to 2,500 people,” says ORT director Jodie Guest, a professor in both Rollins and the Physician Assistant (PA) Program in the Emory School of Medicine.

She could. ORT has been responding to outbreaks since the earliest days of the pandemic, setting up pop-up vaccination sites in poultry plants, school parking lots, parks and anywhere else the group needs to be to respond to hot spots.

For this event, Guest recruited past and present ORT students as well as PA students, faculty and alumni clinicians. On Sept. 5, her group set up their 14 tents next to the Jazz Festival. Another group, CORE: Community Organized Relief Effort, set up a vaccine station in another section of the park as part of this initiative.

The Piedmont Park event didn’t get near the 2,500 goal, which was the number of free Music Midtown passes Live Nation made available. But Guest’s team administered 144 vaccinations and the CORE group gave 31.

“With the staff we had, we realistically could have done hundreds more vaccinations at our site,” says Guest. “That said, the previous record in Atlanta for vaccinations at a festival event was 40 vaccinations, so we blew that out of the water. We had a line of people waiting for us when we got there to open up.”

ORT and CORE offered both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but almost 90% of the participants chose Pfizer, likely because of its recent FDA approval.

“I consider this a hugely successful event,” says Guest. “I commend the mayor’s office for using every opportunity to get vaccines out to people where they are.”

Music Midtown, which will run Sept. 18-19, is requiring all attendees of the festival this year to be fully vaccinated or show a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of first attending. Participants who got vaccinated at the Sept. 5 clinic will still need to show a negative COVID-19 test for entrance to Music Midtown with their free ticket.

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