Residents are seated as they wait to get COVID-19 vaccines in Vermeer Corp.’s Global Pavilion on March 5. Photo submitted by Vermeer


Vermeer Corp., in conjunction with Marion County Public Health, has been working to get COVID-19 vaccines in the arms of local residents.
 
Liz Sporrer, senior manager for talent acquisition and corporate communication, said Vermeer began working with the county health department in December on how the company and local public health officials could work together to get community members vaccinated.

“We said, you know, we have this huge space, our Global Pavilion, which is about the size of  a football field, this big open space indoors, and we’re a manufacturing company, so what do we do well? Logistics, process, continuous improvement. We’re not in health care, but we can bring what we do to the table.”

After a test-run clinic in early February where 200 people went through the vaccination process, another clinic, under the guidance of Marion County Public Health, was held on March 5, where about 800 people  -- a combination of Vermeer employees and community members -- were vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, Sporrer said.

“It went really well, and it’s been great to see how this public and private partnership can work together to benefit the community,” she said.

Sporrer said early conversations quickly shifted from when vaccines would be available to how the vaccines would be distributed.

“We knew at some point it would shift from not having vaccines to not being able to distribute, and we were hoping to get ahead of that curve in the sense of how we can best get vaccinations to the people who need them and want them,” she said.

The clinic was run by Marion County Public Health, with help from Pella Regional Health Center and nurses who make up Vermeer’s occupational and wellness team.

Six more clinics are planned between now and the end of May, Sporrer said.

Kim Dorn, director of Marion County Public Health, said Vermeer offers an ideal location to conduct vaccination clinics.

“Their facility is beautiful and is capable of doing more than we’d probably ever need,” Dorn said.

She said local health officials adapt to whatever location they're at, and have ramped up the number of vaccination clinics they are doing countywide, including clinics at the raceway in Knoxville and at Pella Corp. in Pella, among others.

Sporrer said that the Pella-based industrial and agricultural design and manufacturing company initially had discussions on how it could get its employees vaccinated, but that it quickly evolved to how the company could help more people in the community get vaccinated.

She said Vermeer has also offered to help other companies interested in implementing similar clinics for their employees or the communities where they are located, and to share insights Vermeer learned along the way.

“At first it did start from this place of when vaccines are available, how do we get them to Vermeer team members. That was really kind of the first question,” Sporrer said. “We are a manufacturer. We have team members who are working on-site but don't have the ability to work from home, so how do we get them vaccinations if they want them? Then it kind of transitioned … to a point of dispensing, and can we do others? We’re just really excited as to where it landed and how we were able to partner on this.”

Article photo: Residents check in to get a COVID-19 vaccination at Vermeer Corp.’s Global Pavilion on March 5. Photo submitted by Vermeer.