New COVID-19 vaccination center opens under VDEM at Virginia Beach Convention Center

COVID-19 Vaccine

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — There’s a change in “who” is giving you the COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has taken over the clinic at the convention center.

10 On Your Side was there Monday.

So, why the change? Because the city can then divvy up its resources to get vaccines to underserved neighborhoods across Virginia Beach.

Down at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, a man showed up in a non-emergency medical transportation vehicle for the clinic Monday.

His name is Tom Lorenz, and he had two strokes last December. He got down to the convention center the only way he could.

“I feel so great,” he said, laying on a gurney after getting his second dose of Moderna. “I feel so great because you know, I’m handicapped. I can’t have the COVID because the COVID will kill me.”  

Others also felt good after getting the shot Monday.

“I feel a sense of relief. I’m protected. I feel like a 100% new man,” said Hal Spencer, from Chesapeake, who was using a walker as he left the convention center. “You got the opportunity. It’s paid for. Why not do it?”

Yet, statistics clearly show the number of people showing up to get vaccinated is falling off, in Hampton Roads, across Virginia, and across the country. 

Bruce Sterling is chief regional coordinator with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

“You are right. It is starting to taper off some in some places, and I don’t know why. We have people teamed up, and out on the streets encouraging people, and reaching out to churches,” Sterling said.

Churches are the main avenues to reach African American residents in their communities. 

“I feel fantastic, I feel fantastic,” said Pamela Ogunleye who just got her second shot of Moderna. Ogunleye has a message for African Americans who are still hesitant to get the shot.

“What I want to say to people … get the vaccine…. get it … It helps all of us out. Everybody … my message is to tell them to come out, get your vaccination, it is for your own good. Your own good, and for everybody else around you,” Ogunleye said.

Spencer added that he hadn’t gotten any reaction from the vaccine as of the time he spoke with 10 On Your Side.

Sterling added that Virginia Beach hopes to reach small, more specific communities now that the Virginia Department of Emergency Management has taken over the convention center.

“The reason the Virginia Department of Emergency Management took over is to give the city of Virginia Beach the opportunity to use their resources to do more targeted clinics to some of the underserved areas,” he said.

Underserved communities such as African American communities. 

We asked Sterling why they are only giving second doses.

“Because we have so many that need the second dose, and we are only giving 2,000 a day, so we are already maxed out with appointments for second doses,” he explained.

Sterling told us appointments will be taken for first doses on Thursday. 

We asked Sterling why VDEM doesn’t allow walk-in vaccinations like FEMA does at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk.

“The problem with that, if we have more people show up than the number of doses on hand, then we won’t be able to handle that,” he said.

At the convention center, they are taking vaccinations by appointment only. Everyone will be able to register for either Moderna or Pfizer first shots beginning Thursday.  

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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