Peninsula leaders announce 3 mass vaccination sites; vaccinations underway Friday


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Over the last few weeks, as the region initiated its COVID-19 vaccination plan, the six localities of the Peninsula have been working cooperatively to address the needs of the public.

On Friday, city managers and county administrators from Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Newport News, Hampton and Poquoson issued a joint statement, announcing they had established three vaccination clinics to serve residents in the region.

  • Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center – City of Williamsburg and James City County
  • Hampton Roads Convention Center – City of Hampton and the City of Poquoson
  • Christopher Newport University – City of Newport News and York County (This location is a temporary site for vaccinating public service essential personnel; officials are evaluating additional sites for public vaccination.)

The officials said the clinics are part of a collaboration and relationships with the Virginia Department of Health and the regional health systems Riverside and Sentara.

This week, Sentara provided the initial doses for the three Peninsula clinics to administer vaccines to teachers, essential local government personnel, court, and jail staff. The work will continue into next week.

While the vaccine locations are not yet open to the public, vaccinations were already underway Friday for those eligible. Some local health districts are in Phase 1b for vaccinations.

Inside, only 200 got the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as part of the soft rollout for the private event by appointment only.

Essential workers from the Newport News and York County school systems lined up outside CNU’s Freeman Center on Friday for their vaccines.

What’s going on here counts towards President Joe Biden’s call for 100 million vaccination shots in 100 days, and there is a frustration across America with slow response with getting the vaccine into arms. 

“That call has been a rally cry to get the vaccination produced. To get it to the states and distribute it at the local levels, and get it out into the arms of people,” Newport News Firefighter Chief Jeff Johnson said.

York County School Custodian Loretta Hunter got her COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

“I didn’t even feel it,” Hunter said.

Richard White is a York County school bus mechanic.

“It’s great. I didn’t even feel it. I feel like it’s a blessing … it is a blessing because it is a lifesaver. Not only do I not get it, it is just a blessing. It is such a relief,” he said.

Peninsula leaders and health officials ask residents to be patient as they improve on the vaccine delivery system.

The regional vaccination plan has focused on establishing vaccination clinics capable of serving large numbers of people each operational day, once enough supply is made available.

Officials plan on announcing additional details when the sites open for public vaccination, until then they ask that everyone allows workers at the sites to work without interruption.

In addition, the three clinics are supplemental, as the VDH plans to open smaller clinics on the Peninsula.

Cindy Williams is chief pharmacy officer for Riverside Health System. She was on hand at the event on Friday at CNU preparing the syringes filled with the Moderna vaccine.

“I know there is frustration concerning the lack of vaccine. I’d say be patient, stay informed of clinics and opportunities within your area with local health departments, or through your primary care physicians involving mass immunization events,” Williams said. 

Health administrators said the clinics are set up to give more than 1,000 vaccines each eight-hour operating period, by using medical staff, including school nurses, from each locality to serve as vaccinators.

Over the next few weeks, officials will work to identify a consistent flow of vaccines for the three clinic sites.

Once it is available, officials said they will use the VDH scheduling system for the public to schedule vaccination appointments.

While this is not an announcement that mass vaccinations are now available for Peninsula residents, it is a step in that direction, said the city leaders.

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