Coronavirus Digital Discussion: Norfolk Councilman Tommy Smiegel calls vaccine rollout ‘hot mess’

COVID-19 Vaccine

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — How would you describe the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Virginia?

City Councilman Tommy Smiegel sat down to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Norfolk.

His answer: “I have no other words to describe it other than a ‘hot mess.'”

That’s from the federal, state and local level, he said.

“Yes, some balls were dropped and that’s, you know, my opinion. And some colleagues on [Norfolk City] Council will tell you the same thing. That it just was not coordinated, even from the management system for the scheduling.”

On Tuesday, the state health department will open its preregistration call center. The Virginia Department of Health has released very little information on it.

Smigiel said while he wants to trust the process, but they city is prepared in case issues arise.

“We have been told that anybody registered under the old system will transfer over to the new system but just in case, the City of Norfolk is keeping our list,” he said.

Norfolk is covering its bases and stepping up where it can. First, he said, by providing the main vaccination location, the old Macy’s in Military Circle Mall.

They opened up a call center for residents. Citizens can dial 757-664-SHOT to get help with registration and to get their questions answered.

Last week, Norfolk opened several recreation centers specifically to reach older adults in at-risk neighborhoods.

“We feel obligated to make sure we get as many shots in Norfolk citizens’ arms as possible,” he said.

Norfolk is also pulling data by zip code so it can advertise to the most in need, particularly Smigiel said, the city’s Black and brown citizens.

What they need, he told WAVY.com, is more vaccine to meet demand and less confusion.

“Ultimately, the questions come to us and as you see … I’m very active on social media trying to get out information as much as possible,” he said.

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