Mobile clinics helping boost vaccination rates in underserved communities in Hampton Roads

COVID-19 Vaccine

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Mobile vaccination sites are working to help increase the number of vaccinated Virginians.

The Hampton University Mobile Health Unit hit the road in April and has been busy ever since.

Dr. Aviance Lewis, who is the community engagement coordinator for the unit, says the university built the bus to target underserved communities.

“We have realized there are several people in communities across Hampton Roads that have limited access to transportation or they work hours outside of what normal clinic times are,” she said. “Today, I even vaccinated a man who said he waited until now to get it because it was literally in his neighborhood. He didn’t have transportation to get anywhere before. We’re mobile.”

The clinic provides first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

This week, Virginia hit a vaccine milestone with 70% of adults having at least one dose.

Late last month, Gov. Ralph Northam eased many COVID restrictions.

Lewis says they’ve seen an increase in more people and businesses looking for their services.

“There are more companies that are incentivizing people getting their shots. There’s companies that are allowing employees to take off time to be vaccinated. There are also restaurants who have asked me to come vaccinate their employees while at work so management knows they’ve been taken care of and they feel safer offering their services to their clients and guests again because they know their employees are taken care of,” she said.

The easing of restrictions is why residents like Theodore Johnson III got his shot at the clinic’s Macedonia Baptist Church vaccine stop.

“More people are out with no masks on. I just wanted to come out and do what I was supposed to do,” he said.

Johnson says he did it to be safe for himself and his family. Getting the vaccine was a blessing to him, but he wasn’t always so sure if he wanted to get one.

“Actually, I was more hesitant coming out because I heard so many things. Over time, I said I would come out and do it,” he said.

Lewis says being available in the community has helped them dispel vaccination myths and they’ve been able to provide doses from people as young as 12 all the way up to 104 years old.

The clinic can provide 250 shots per day and while they may not reach that daily, Lewis says it feels amazing just being able to restore hope.

“We haven’t had 250 people but those we do have, we’re making a difference for that person individually,” she said.

Lewis says they’re looking to partner with schools later this year to get students vaccinated and they also work with churches and organizations.

The clinic will be at An Achievable Dream, 1300 Ivy Avenue, on June 23 from 9 a.m. to noon in Newport News, in Chesapeake on June 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and in Newport News at Circle Mobile Home Community, 6029 Jefferson Avenue, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 26.

Walk-ups are welcome as well as pre-registers. You can do so by clicking here.

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