Jacksonville organizations honor late Dr. Leon Haley Jr. with COVID-19 vaccine event

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Folks lined up in downtown Jacksonville Thursday morning to get their vaccine.

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Some got in line 45 minutes before the event began to ensure a shot.

“Our first guest was here at 8:15 this morning, waiting to get vaccinated,” JEA spokesperson Karen McAllister said.

The first in line, Randy Henke, said he already had COVID-19 and decided it was time to protect himself against new strains of the virus.

“With the Delta variant going around, I just thought it was time, I guess,” Henke said.

That was a common answer from others in line.

“I’ve had COVID. I just want to make sure that I don’t get the second round of it coming,” Valerie Brock said.

“I just got over COVID so that’s really the reason why I wanted to get this vaccination,” Kaun Roberts said.

JEA’s “Salute to a Healthcare Champion” vaccine event honored the late Dr. Leon Haley Jr. and his mission to promote vaccines.

“He was a champion of healthcare and COVID education in the community,” McAllister said.

Employees at UF Health Jacksonville echoed those words.

“His devotion to this community and the time he was here was nothing short of amazing,” UF Health Jacksonville Chief Operating Officer Greg Miller said.

Miller said Dr. Haley’s mission to vaccinate others was a personal effort.

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“Dr. Haley’s last day of work, he spent it walking through this hospital personally vaccinating employees,” Miller said.

The event was just one way the community carried on Dr. Haley’s legacy.

The event ran from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and gave away free Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to anyone aged 12 and up.