Thousands vaccinated across St. Clair Shores during clinics

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 6, 2021

 Covenant medical assistant Roshonda Woods vaccinates Peter Accardo, 89, of St. Clair Shores at St. Lucy Church Feb. 26.

Covenant medical assistant Roshonda Woods vaccinates Peter Accardo, 89, of St. Clair Shores at St. Lucy Church Feb. 26.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Beverly Borr, of Farmington, and her friend, Barbara Williams, of Farmington Hills, wait after receiving their vaccination to make sure they don’t experience any side effects. The friends came to St. Clair Shores for their vaccination because they could not get an appointment closer to home.

Beverly Borr, of Farmington, and her friend, Barbara Williams, of Farmington Hills, wait after receiving their vaccination to make sure they don’t experience any side effects. The friends came to St. Clair Shores for their vaccination because they could not get an appointment closer to home.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Wayne State University nursing student Vilma Duran prepares a Moderna vaccine at the clinic.

Wayne State University nursing student Vilma Duran prepares a Moderna vaccine at the clinic.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Recipients said they felt lucky to have had the opportunity to be vaccinated, and city officials said they were pleased to offer peace of mind to the thousands that turned up at local COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Offered by the city, a local charity and a local school district, COVID-19 vaccine clinics hit St. Clair Shores the last weekend of February, helping senior citizens, teachers, municipal workers and more receive inoculations against the virus.

The city of St. Clair Shores worked with McLaren Health Care and Walgreens to host a three-day vaccination clinic Feb. 26-28 at the Senior Activity Center in an effort to get municipal employees, teachers, staff and those over the age of 65 in the city vaccinated.

“We let our employees know, let the school districts be aware of it. It’s an opportunity for all those individuals to get the shot that has been a little bit, unfortunately, slow in the turnout,” said City Manager Matthew Coppler.

Organizers had a goal of administering about 2,000 shots over the course of the weekend, with the second doses to come at another clinic three weeks later. Coppler said he hopes the city can host future clinics if more opportunities for vaccinations become available.

“When all this started, we had to start classifying all our employees as essential and non-essential. From our perspective, every one of our employees is essential,” Coppler said. “St. Clair Shores, historically, has been very careful not to have a lot of extra employees. They’re doing two to three different jobs.”

Lake Shore Public School employees were able to be vaccinated at a clinic hosted by the district Feb. 27, and on Feb. 26, Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan hosted a vaccination clinic at St. Lucy Church, 23401 Jefferson Ave., intended to provide their retired and senior volunteers with an opportunity to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“We’ve been contacting other people who have lots of contact with seniors,” said Trista Johnson, program manager of the retired and senior volunteer program for Oakland and Macomb for Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan.

About 230 vaccines were available for distribution that day. Two of those went to Mary Accardo and her husband, Peter.

Accardo, of St. Clair Shores, said that everyday life can be difficult for her and her husband, as he is 89 and confined to a wheelchair and she is 88. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the difficulties.

She was concerned that, were she even able to get an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, she may not be able to get her husband to the appointment.

“They give you a scheduled time. If I get a time, then I have to rely on getting some person or a company to drive him there, and it’s hard,” she said.

Accardo has volunteered with the American Red Cross for five decades. She said she loves helping people and so, being a volunteer and a trainer has been a good fit for her.

“It’s a job that, once you’ve completed it, you’ve done something to help save lives,” she said.

She had heard from the American Red Cross and from Catholic Charities about vaccination clinics in Livonia and another community on the west side, but Accardo said she had no idea how she would get her husband there.

Since she had heard that St. Clair Shores was working to get a vaccination clinic set up in the city, she called the city manager’s office to get more information, explaining the situation she had with transporting her husband.

“It was later that morning, I (got) a call from Fire Chief (James) Piper. He was so gracious and he said to me, ‘Don’t worry about it because we can get you where you need to go to get that vaccine,’” Accardo said.

Then, when Accardo learned about the vaccination clinic at St. Lucy Church, so close to home, she said she couldn’t believe it. The department took her husband to the appointment from his home via an ambulance and then back home again when they were through.

“I was so emotional because I thought God must have had this in his plan. There they are, and there’s somebody who will be able to take us there and somebody who will be able to bring him back and it’s close to home,” Accardo said. “After trying so hard for so long...”

She thinks it can be harder for seniors to get an appointment because not everyone has a cellphone or access to the internet.

“I was lucky because Trista had this plan. It made it so much more convenient and easier, and I felt so much more secure and safe,” Accardo said.

Johnson said they were happy that Accardo and her husband could be vaccinated at the clinic.

“She’s been an amazing help to thousands of people over the years ... (through) years of going to Red Cross blood drives,” Johnson said.

Accardo said her life and her husband life have changed because of the pandemic. She misses going to church and volunteering with the American Red Cross. Her only outings, she said, are to Costco on senior days, Kroger and doctor’s appointments. She said they didn’t even see their son for quite some time at the beginning of the pandemic because he is on dialysis.

She’s hoping that when she and her husband are fully vaccinated, it allows her to do a few more things.

Mayor Kip Walby said he was extremely grateful to McLaren and Dave Jarvie, the local district manager of Walgreens, for helping make the three-day vaccination clinic happen.

“This all came together in three days,” he said. “It could not have gone any better, any smoother. (It was) just fantastic.”

Stopping in each day, he said it was incredible to see how efficiently everything was running.

“It was a peace of mind that we brought to them, and they were thankful for it,” he said. “When people come together, good things happen.”

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