Benton clinic provides 1,000 people with COVID-19 vaccines

The spots filled quickly after Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s announcement that those 65 and older were able to be vaccinated, rather than just 70 and up.

BENTON, Ark. — In less than 24 hours of its announcement, the vaccine clinic at First United Methodist Church in Benton was booked solid. All 1,000 appointment slots were full.

“We were kind of watching the numbers, we’re like, oh, we’re gonna hit 1,000 in the first night,” Allie Staton, the Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at West Side Pharmacy, said. “Wow, this is awesome.”

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They filled spots quickly after Governor Asa Hutchinson’s announcement that those 65 and older were able to be vaccinated, rather than just 70 and up.

They needed a space to actually perform the vaccinations, and with that many people, it had to be big.

That’s where Reverend Ben Chrismon comes in. He’s the Senior Pastor at First United.

“We’ve been a giving church for a long time, and looking at supporting our community,” Chrismon said. “Many of our members who haven’t been out in a year were chomping at the bit to say, ‘how do I help?'”

For the people getting vaccinated today, that help is appreciated.

Janet Ausburn got her first shot today. It’s the first step on the road to her seeing those outside her family.

“Getting the first one gives me a sense of relief… calming,” Ausburn said. “I feel blessed that I made it this far, I did not get the COVID, unlike a lot of others.”

For the organizers of today’s event, it feels good to be a part of history.

“That means everything to me, as I said earlier, it’s just one step closer to having our lives back,” Chrismon said.

Staton feels the same.

“It’s so heartwarming to know that we are part of this greater good in helping patients feel some sense of security,” she said.

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And for Ausburn, her excitement was palpable after receiving her shot.

“I can’t say it enough… relief,” she said. “With four exclamation parts!”