Vaccine Voices: ‘I plan to be with my family more during the holidays.’

While seated in the observation area following her COVID-19 booster dose, Carolyn Smith of Park Rose used the time wisely by posting information on social media about the experience. She was, in fact, inside a former Kmart building in Gresham that had been transformed into a winter wonderland vaccination clinic located at 440 NW Burnside Rd.

Carolyn Smith

Carolyn, who was finding it difficult to schedule a booster appointment, only discovered the Gresham site on a social media post earlier that day. “This is great,” she said. “There wasn’t a wait and it’s so wide open!”

A certified geriatric nurse for 40 years, Carolyn didn’t hesitate to get vaccinated or boosted once she was eligible. She has five daughters – a few who followed in her professional footsteps as nurses, 19 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren and says most of her family members are vaccinated, but not all. “I have pushed for all the kids in the family to be vaccinated,” said Carolyn. “I cringe when I think about them being in school [if unvaccinated].”

As for the parents who haven’t had their kids vaccinated yet, Carolyn believes they are, in fact, doing their research, being thoughtful and considering what is best for their family. Some of them, Carolyn says, hesitate because of historical racism within our health care system. She believes it’s essential for marginalized communities to hear not only from leaders, but from their fellow community members as well.

Wintry decorations at Gresham’s “winter wonderland” vaccination site

And that’s exactly why Carolyn was sitting in a former Kmart tapping away on her phone—to get the word out about high-volume vaccination sites like this one.  She had a close call in her own family with COVID-19 when her step-grandson, who is in his forties, became severely ill from the virus. He was hospitalized, put on a ventilator and thankfully survived. He was not vaccinated.

One of her granddaughters, on the other hand, tested positive for COVID-19 but experienced mild symptoms and rested at home. She was vaccinated.

Boosted for the holidays and ready to travel

A couple of days after her booster dose Carolyn reported that she experienced a low-grade fever, a bit of nausea and her arm was sore at the injection site. As an avid traveler who is now fully boosted, Carolyn is feeling more relaxed about taking trips and socializing. Early in 2022 you might find her in Antigua.

For now, she is looking forward to the holidays. “I plan to be with my family more during the holidays, however, I have been encouraging those in my family who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated and letting them know that they must wear a mask in my home.”

Looking for a vaccine or booster?

There are several high-volume vaccination sites throughout Oregon. During the first month of operation, these sites provided more than 26,000 vaccinations, more than 3,000 of which were Pfizer pediatric doses. During its first week the former Kmart site gave nearly 1,000 vaccinations.

The clinic staff are friendly, professional, efficient and experienced. Many are part of traveling medical teams that include nurses, EMTs and medical assistants. Please note: High-volume vaccination sites will be closed on Dec. 23 through Dec. 26 and Dec. 31 through Jan. 1, 2022. Find more information here.