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COVID-19 Vaccinations Pick Up In Tallahassee As Shot Becomes Widely Available

Valerie Crowder
Tanya Tatum, student health services director at Florida A&M University, leads the campuses COVID-19 vaccination clinic, where any adult can get the Moderna shot without an appointment.

Expanded vaccine eligibility offers a glimmer of hope to those looking forward to society returning to normal.

All adults in Florida became eligible to receive the COVID-19 shot this week. As of Wednesday morning, almost 30% of Leon County residents had received at least their first dose, and 17% had been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Florida Department of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A few thousand local residents have gotten inoculated at the Al Lawson Center on the campus of Florida A&M University, said Tanya Tatum, student health services director. The center is operating a walk-in clinic offering the Moderna shot every day from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. Anyone who’s at least 18 years old is eligible.

“We just want as many people as possible to get the vaccine. This is our best way out of dealing with the problems with COVID-19,” Tatum said. “The more people that get vaccinated the safer we’re all going to be.”

The center was opened at FAMU to help increase access to the vaccine. “We certainly have been doing a lot of outreach to the minority community,” Tatum said. “We really want to make sure that everybody is getting vaccinated.”

Tatum says when the vaccine became available to all adults, she saw a spike in people coming to the clinic. "We’ve seen a lot more traffic," she said. "I'm very gad and very happy to see that."

PradeepRao Vaccine Clinic.jpg
Valerie Crowder
Pradeep Rao, 43, received his second dose of the Moderna shot at the Al Lawson Center at Florida A&M University on Monday, April 5, 2021.

Pradeep Rao, 43, received his second dose of the Moderna shot at the FAMU clinic on Monday. “The first thing is we need to be safe as a society. This is a right step towards that,” Rao said. “It will help with our economy and jobs and move America in the right direction.”

Rao said he had a few side effects after his first shot. “After the first dose, initially for a few hours, there was nothing.” Then he experienced a fever and sore arm. “The arm was sore for a week actually. The first day - for 24 hours - it was hard to lift,” he said. “It was not a nice feeling. But I’m OK.”

Rao says he’d much rather deal with the side effects from the vaccine than catch COVID-19. “I can deal with some fever or taking a few days here or there off and resting.”

After his body has had time to develop immunity to the vaccine, he’s looking forward to getting back to the way things were in 2019, Rao said. “I plan to travel and see some places.”