NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The goal at the vaccination center run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Military Circle Mall is to administer 3,000 COVID-19 vaccine shots a day.
But recently when the FEMA goal was coming up short, FEMA relaxed the policy requiring pre-registration.
The new policy is that if there are vaccine doses available when you show up, you will get vaccinated — no pre-registration needed.
Tim Smith is site manager for FEMA’S vaccination center. Meeting the 3,000-shot goal is important, he said.
“In order to get everyone vaccinated, we found out last week that walk-up up registration, if we have the vaccine, is the way to go,” he said.
The best time to show up is after the morning rush around 10 a.m. to noon, or 2-5 p.m.
Marcus Orie just showed up on Thursday.
“We actually called twice, and we were told we could walk right up and get the shot, or at least be put on a list, which is what I hoped for,” Orie said.
10 On Your Side timed Orie to see how long it would take between entering the vaccination center and getting the vaccination. It was only 7.5 minutes.
Orie said he had issues with online registration, which has been tough for many.
“People don’t know there are these services available, and they think they have to get online, and I could find no solution trying to register myself. Coming here is actually a blessing in disguise,” Orie said.
Same thing for Jennifer Unger, her daughter Alexa and sister Robin.
“Robin said hey there is a vaccination clinic and no appointment necessary. I’ve been looking for [the] vaccine all week in Chesapeake and haven’t been able to find one,” Unger said.
FEMA picked Hampton Roads for its mass vaccination site because many are not getting vaccinated.
Smith explained why.
“Hampton Roads was picked because a large population in Hampton Roads has some hesitancy to get the vaccine, but I am here to tell you the vaccine is safe,” Smith said.
After Orie got vaccinated he said he felt a wave of relief.
“I feel like a weight just came off my shoulder, and I feel like I have a sense of accomplishment,” Orie said.
The FEMA vaccination center will be open from 9-7 p.m. seven days a week for the next seven weeks. You do not need to pre-register. If the vaccine is still available, you will get a shot in the arm.
There is also a profound sense of mission at the FEMA center.
“This is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. I think every shot is a life saved,” Smith said.
That is saying something, because Smith served 28 years in the U.S. Air Force with two tours in Hampton Roads.
“So, again, people who want to get vaccinated can walk in and get an appointment when the vaccination is available. We can give it to them right away,” Smith said.
Alongside Smith is Navy Cmdr. Greg Leveque and 135 active-duty sailors from Little Creek and Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Leveque is with Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 4.
“Our role in this is to act like the vaccinator and provide administrative support,” Leveque said.
So far, there have been 15,000 shots into arms during the first week. That’s is an average of over 2,000 a day, but far from the 3,000-dose goal.
“We ensure that all the patients that come here are taken care of. We hope they have a great journey as we try to get people vaccinated,” Leveque concluded.
If you want to get the vaccine, you can still register to get on the state’s vaccination list at https://vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN VA (1-877-829-4682), 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. If you’re eligible, you’ll be contacted for an appointment.