The casino increases its chances of vaccination


Herman Toots said he had just been busy.

Toots is a facilities supervisor at the Saracen Casino Resort and had just rolled up his sleeve for a shot at the vaccination clinic held at the casino earlier this week.

Toots said he had the chance to get a shot before but, well, one thing and then another got in his way.

Subsequently, however, he said he was glad he took care of the matter.

“I have been vaccinated,” he said, waving a big smile and a thumbs-up to a colleague who was walking in the area that had been set aside for vaccination.

The free injections were administered by staff at the Arkansas Medical Care Foundation, who worked on behalf of the Arkansas Department of Health to provide the Johnson & Johnson injections.

By mid-afternoon, 22 people had received the blows, but by the end of the effort at 8 p.m., nearly 60 had rolled up their sleeves.

Several people who were getting vaccinated said that they, like Toots, just never took the time to get vaccinated against covid. But now that the opportunity presented itself, they decided to do it.

“Hey, I just got my covid photo,” said Carl Cobbs, a casino mechanic, on his cell phone as he was about to return to work.

Cobbs handed the phone to one of the health workers to corroborate what Cobbs had just said to the person on the other end of the line.

“Yes, your brother got hit with the covid,” the woman said over the phone. “Aren’t you proud?”

For those who haven’t been vaccinated, making them more accessible makes a difference, a health worker said.

“The difference is that we take the shots where the people are instead of bringing the audience to where the shots are,” said Anna Marie Sullivan, general secretary of the medical foundation.

Kristina Bondurant, director of public programs at the medical foundation, welcomed another client.

“We’re glad you’re here today,” she told Floyd Allen, a walking middle-aged man.

Allen answered a few questions about his condition, then went inside and sat down. Paul Hernandez, an LPN, then put on his gloves as he calmly chatted with Allen about the possibility of getting the vaccine and possible side effects. As Hernandez finished and opened the package with the pre-filled syringe, Allen rolled up his sleeve and began to wince long before the blow was delivered and maintained the painful expression for several seconds afterward.

“I’m afraid of gunfire,” he said in his defense. “I haven’t had a shot in a long time, and they still scare me.”

When asked why he was vaccinated, he said it was for his family.

“I am still raising children,” he said. “I have a 10 year old, a 13 year old and a 15 year old. I want to protect them.”

Carlton Saffa, casino market manager and the organizer of the vaccination event, said he was happy with the outcome.

“When I heard there was an effort to vaccinate people in places like auto shows and farmers’ markets, it prompted us to host a clinic, given our traffic,” he said. said Saffa. “Saracen receives 5,000 visitors a day and as such we are able to help deliver the vaccine to the Arkansans in a quick and convenient manner.”

Herman Toots shows off his covid vaccination bandage after getting vaccinated at the Saracen Casino Resort this week. Along with Toots are Anna Marie Sullivan (left to right), Kristina Bondurant and Amanda Ruesing, all of whom work for the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, which administered the injections. (Pine Bluff Commercial / Byron Tate)

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