PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — As the new COVID vaccine makes its way into Hampton Roads, a lot of people have a lot of questions. On Tuesday, Black faith leaders met with local health care experts to get some answers about the new shot.

During the Zoom meeting, organizer and Celebrate Healthcare founder, Gaylene Kanoyton, asked Sentara Healthcare’s Medical Director of Health Equity, Dr. Keith Newby, how he would answer those in the community who question why they should get the new vaccine if “all those old vaccines didn’t work.”

Newby responded by saying, “When they say that, I always tell them, ‘the old vaccines did work because the death rates went down tremendously after initiation of those vaccines, so they did work.'”

So then, why do we need a new shot? Dr. Jordan Asher, Executive Vice President & Chief Physician Executive of Sentara Healthcare said, “New is really a misnomer. It’s really an updated version.”

Dr. Asher explained the vaccine is made the exact same way. It has just been tweaked. Bivalent means it protects against two variants, Delta which was in the old booster, and now Omicron as well. The BA5 sub-variant of Omicron accounts for most cases circulating now.

The change is similar to the way the flu vaccine changes every season based on the variant doctors expect will circulate.

Dr. Asher made the segway, “And as I mention flu… guess what season it is? It’s flu shot season!”

Doctors recommend both shots and say you can get them at the same time, even in the same arm if you want to.

The flu shot is recommended once a year in the fall. You can get the new COVID shot 2 months after your last COVID shot or booster or, Dr. Asher said, 2 months after you’ve had COVID. He went on to say that you should not wait longer than 6 months after your last shot or diagnosis, however, as protection wanes.

Riverside also announced that it will host several free clinics throughout the region offering both flu and COVID-19 vaccination. These drive-thru and walk-up clinics will allow patients 9 and older to receive the flu vaccine and those 6 months and older to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccines will be offered for all primary doses as well as booster doses based on the current approved vaccination schedule.  

The clinic schedules are as follows:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 28, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Drive-Thru Clinic
    • Riverside Medical Offices/Newport Square
    • 856 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard #A, Newport News
  • Saturday, Oct. 1, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Drive-Thru Clinic
    • Riverside Medical Office Building Hampton
    • 850 Enterprise Parkway in Hampton
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Outdoor Clinic (park and walk-up)
    • Riverside Wellness & Fitness Center Peninsula
    • 12650 Jefferson Ave. in Newport News
  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Walk-In Vaccine Clinic 
    • Eastern Shore Family Medicine
    • 10085 William F. Bernart Circle in Nassawadox
  • Wednesday, Oct. 12, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Walk-In Vaccine Clinic
    • Riverside Shore Medical Center at Metompkin
    • 17385 Lankford Highway in Parksley
  • Wednesday, Oct. 12, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Outdoor Clinic (park and walk-up)
    • Riverside Walter Reed Hospital
    • 7519 Hospital Dr. in Gloucester
  • Wednesday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Drive-Thru Clinic
    • Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg
    • 1500 Commonwealth Ave. in Williamsburg
  • Saturday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Drive-Thru Clinic
    • Riverside Cancer Care Center (on the campus of Riverside Regional Medical Center)
    • 12100 Warwick Blvd. in Newport News
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Drive-Thru Clinic
    • Charlie W. and Golden Bethune Hill Community Clinic Riverside
    • 727 25th St. in Newport News
  • Wednesday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. – Drive-Thru Clinic
    • Riverside Brentwood Medical Center 
    • 0510 Jefferson Ave. in Newport News

Check WAVY.com for the latest updates.