PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Early Thursday morning, a well-placed source told 10 On Your Side that the Portsmouth Sportsplex will become the site of a large COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
The source said Florida-based AshBritt Inc and North Carolina-based IEM Health will together set up their mass Community Vaccination Clinic (CVC). Portsmouth Vice Mayor De’Andre Barnes also has said the start date would be Tuesday.
Then Lauren Opett with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, which oversees CVCs, sent us information. She would not confirm the specific date or location, but said officials hope to open the clinic next week.
“At this time, we are still working through the details of set up. The goal is for the site to open early next week and to provide approximately 1,000 vaccines per day, however we will look to ramp up as needed and when more vaccine becomes available. The people that will be vaccinated at these CVCs are those already pre-registered in the state system and the groups will be based on where we are at currently (for now, 1a and 1b).”
AshBritt did not provide a comment for the story, and IEM Health was unavailable. The Sportsplex also did not comment for this report.
The clinic in Portsmouth is one of several in the state. 3,000 doses will be given at a Petersburg site, and 3,000 at a Martinsville site.
Barnes, the vice mayor, added that the clinic aims to streamline the vaccination process.
“They are working to get a 1,000 a day, Monday through Friday, shots into arms. And like I said, this is a one-stop-shop. They have everything: the security, vaccinations, you register and you will be able to do everything with them,” Barnes said.
Barnes is concerned with statistics, like 60% of Portsmouth’s COVID-19 deaths are in the African American population.
“We have a lot of people who are minority. 52% African American in the city, and they are the ones being affected by COVID-19 the most,” he said.
Barnes is concerned that so many African Americans have not been vaccinated.
“History shows us when vaccines come it has not always been a good experience like with the Tuskegee syphilis study. It really hurts a lot of people, and I think that is one reason people question vaccines.”
Barnes has not been chosen yet for the vaccine, but he’s ready and wants others to be ready, too.
“I believe it is 100% safe, and I am going to take it, and show it is safe and for us to be part of the solution. If we want to get this country back to where it needs to be, where our city needs to be, then we need to trust in the system,” he said.
AshBritt and IEM will also operate CVCs in Petersburg and Martinsville.
“These communities have high levels of poverty. They don’t have access to the resources to get the shot, and don’t know about it… Density plays a part. A lot of our homes, especially low-income housing, are really close together. A lot of the time, the people living there are affected by it more than others,” he said.
Barnes also says they will be depending heavily on churches to help spread the word and encourage getting the vaccine,
“A lot of African Americas believe in the church, and they trust the church and the churches like St. Mark are having an event this weekend,” he said.
The vice mayor has this message to everyone: “Listen up.”
“If you want to out, and do the fun things, then you need to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”