As the country focuses on subduing the global pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccination has become an important step. In Onslow County, a couple of recent customers from Swansboro will tell you that doing your part is not only easy, it can also be a great way to see some old friends.

Pat and Leo Midgett, who live on Elm Street, went to the Onslow County Multipurpose Building on Richlands Highway in Jacksonville for their first shots on Saturday, Jan. 23.

“It is the most organized place,” Pat Midgett said. Getting there was easy. Dee Dee Gradus, their daughter, was able to set up the appointment by telephone, Midgett said. “It was a wonderful experience. It was very, very nicely run.”

The entire process – even though they arrived 45 minutes early for their appointment – took only 45 minutes.

“It was smooth all the way through,” she said. “I am so proud of them. It is a good thing at a sad time.”

Leo, a Swansboro native, and Pat recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They have lived in Swansboro for the past 49 years.

The county process is set up so that folks with an appointment are screened with a few questions pertinent to the virus while in line outside. Once inside, the first stop is to provide ID and some insurance and personal information. From there, they receive the injection of the first dose after which they are taken to a waiting area where they not only wait the required 15 minutes, but also receive an appointment for the second dose.

The entire process can generally be accomplished in less than an hour.

Rose Privett, 94, of Swansboro went in for her vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 21. She said she had a great experience, too, enhanced by the fact that some familiar faces were there to help.

“How wonderful that place is,” Privett, a voracious reader and patron of Swansboro Branch Library, said.

The experience was made even more personal as some of the folks working the vaccine site that day were from the Swansboro library. “We went in the door and two of them came right away,” Privett said. Every step of the way, she explained, there were people to usher you through the process. “Everyone was so kind and considerate.”

“I had no idea,” she said, that she would run into the librarians from the Swansboro Branch Library. Working the site that day were Tracy Daley and Lisa Kozlowski, two of the branch library’s full-time employees, according to Maya McCloud, a branch library employee.

McCloud said the library employees are part of the Onslow County Disaster Ready Team. While the branch libraries are closed, the employees are helping out with the COVID-19 response in other areas, such as the Citizen Phone Bank or the vaccine center.

Glenn Hargett, assistant county manager, explained that all county employees can be reassigned tasks when in a State of Emergency.

“That was declared at the beginning of the COVID-19 when it was determined to be a pandemic,” Hargett said. “All the library branches were closed and there is limited staff at the main branch. The museum was closed and all the staff assigned to the Citizens Phone Bank. Library staff is working at the Citizens Phone Bank and at the two vaccination sites. Additionally, there is staff from just about every large department there. Many other units provide staff several days a week to work with the vaccination clinics or with the Citizens Phone Bank.”

County employees are not the only folks who are seeing this process through, according to Hargett.

In addition to the National Guard, Onslow County has received a helping hand from Team Rubicon, a non-governmental agency that was formed by a group of military veterans in the aftermath of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti.

National in scope and open to all, Team Rubicon pitches in during national disasters of all types, according to one of the volunteers on hand.

The library is special to Privett. She said that she and close friend Jane Cotton, also of Swansboro, are considered the branch library’s “best customers.”

“That’s what they tell us,” Privett, who has had a love of reading since being introduced to a library as a youngster, said in a telephone interview.

Seeing the familiar faces made the vaccination process so much more personal for Privett.

“Everybody was so kind,” she said. And, just as important, the process was quite efficient. “I think our government should take a page out of their book.”

If local governments across the country having trouble with vaccine distribution followed Onslow County’s lead, perhaps things would go more smoothly in those areas, according to Privett.

“They need to be recognized for this,” Privett said of the county officials who have organized and manned the vaccine site. “When I was little, they said that if a boy was bad, everybody knew it. But if a boy was good, kept up on his studies and all, nobody knew about it.”

Privett, who was born in Philadelphia, was introduced to a library as a fifth grade student. She was called from her Catholic school classroom one day and summoned by a nun to the convent in order to clean the kitchen.

“She gave me milk and cookies after which I cleaned the kitchen,” Privett recalled. “When I was done cleaning, she invited me into their library.”

It was a transformational experience. She can’t remember the book she chose that day, although she knows it was a mystery. “It was probably an Agatha Christie.” She loved every page and she still loves to read the mysteries today. Privett said she reads about three books a week these days.

“I love the books. I live in them.” And she has relied on the Swansboro Branch Library for as long as she’s lived in town.

She got to Swansboro in 1977 by way of her second marriage.

Privett said she was a widow working at Tastykake in Philadelphia when she met her second husband, James Hatsell Privett, also a Tastykake employee and a widower.

“The first day I met him, he said, ‘If you marry me, you’re going to have to go down to Swansboro.’ I said, ‘Where in the world is Swansboro?’ I went home and tried to look it up, but wasn’t on the map.”

When her future husband called her the next day, he said Swansboro was close to Camp Lejeune.

“I knew where that was because my brother was a Marine stationed there.”

They married in 1972.

While she has been widowed nearly 18 years, “I still say I’m married.”

Email Jimmy Williams at jimmy@tidelandnews.com.

For more on this story purchase a copy of the Feb. 3, 2021, Tideland News.

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