PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Three community vaccination centers will be popping up in Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Newport News next week, but some plans have changed.
Two clinics are now set to open up in different locations than originally proposed.
The original goal was to open a mass vaccination site at an empty former Toys R Us store near Lynnhaven Mall. Now, the plan is to keep that box empty. Plans changed when Johnson & Johnson paused its vaccine distribution due to health concerns.
“The original goal was to open these mass vaccination sites so local health departments and localities could concentrate on small venues and target smaller and at-risk communities,” said Erin Sutton, chief deputy and state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
AshBritt-IEM Health will now take over operations at the Virginia Beach Convention Center next Monday, April 26.
That’s where we found the Bronson family on Monday.
“We want to do the vaccine as a family,” said Dell Bronson, who came to the clinic at the Convention Center with her two sons. She laughed when it was suggested a family that vaccinates together, stays together.
The Bronson family could not get 16-year-old Stephen vaccinated because the Virginia Beach Convention Center did not have the Pfizer vaccine. They were administering Moderna, but only Pfizer is approved for those 16 and older.
“I was hoping to get vaccinated and heard I couldn’t because [the Pfizer vaccine is] not here,” Stephen said.
Over on the Virginia Peninsula, AshBritt-IEM Health will also move into the Hampton Coliseum on April 29.
They were originally planning to be in the Hampton Roads Convention Center, but that didn’t’ work out due to planning issues with the convention center, so the Coliseum it is.
In Newport News, the plan is still to open a community vaccination center on Tuesday, April 27 at the old Ferguson Shared Services Center on Warwick Boulevard.
“There continues to be a hesitancy for the vaccine and that is starting to limit our numbers especially with Johnson & Johnson on a pause. We need to keep pushing information and the message to get vaccinated,” Sutton said.
Here’s information and a message from Bronson, who brought her two children to get vaccinated.
“People need to get vaccinated. Would you rather have two shots or COVID? Would you rather have two shots or stay in the hospital, or be sick, or die? Hopefully not,” Bronson said.
Sutton adds emphasized the safety of the vaccines.
“We need to let folks know they can come to get vaccinated and it is safe and continues to push that message as much as possible,” she said.