NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A vaccination clinic in Newport News is now open for those who pre-registered.
On Friday, Southeastern Virginia Health System, UnitedHealthcare, and Five Medicine, kicked off the four-day-long clinic. The organizations are partnering together to vaccinate around 700 people at 48th Physicians.
“It’s awesome,” said Angela Futrell, who is the chief executive officer for Southeastern Virginia Health System. “For us, we’re all about prevention. We’re all about the community. We’re the federal qualified health center in this collaboration. We’re excited to bring this to our patients and the community at large. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Pre-registered attendees will receive their shots in four pods set up outside of the building. It’s made to be quick and accessible, something that first brought Southeastern Virginia Health System to the south Newport News community 42 years ago, according to Futrell.
“It was important because the health care was needed the most. Health centers are born out of socioeconomically depressed areas. This was us bringing health care to where people could walk to it, walk across the street,” she said. “As you can see, it’s a very busy neighborhood. A lot of those patients are clients, so it’s important we’re accessible to the community.”
Accessibility was what was able to get Diane Sarge out to get her shot on Monday. The retired emergency room medical professional says she’s had trouble signing up for vaccine appointments.
“Every time you’d click on an app, the schedule was already full before they put it out. So, I don’t know how the people were getting in so early. I know the drug stores were saying they were out of appointments,” she said.
Sarge says she saw something about the vaccination clinic on Facebook and was able to easily schedule her appointment for Monday.
While she doesn’t have any big plans after getting her second shot, she says she’s looking forward to the feeling.
“I’ll just be glad I feel safer,” she said.
Futrell hopes that people, especially those who have medical conditions or belong to a minority group that is more susceptible to COVID-19, take advantage of getting their shots.
“We know there is some hesitancy, ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ as it’s called. The benefits of receiving the vaccine far outweigh if you don’t. Unfortunately, we’ve seen lots of deaths, needless deaths due to COVID. The vaccines, we’ve been asking for it. It’s here,” she said.
Dr. Pauline Reed, who’s the chief medical officer for Southeastern Virginia Health System and a family medicine doctor, says people shouldn’t be afraid of getting the vaccine.
“I want people to understand it’s just like other vaccines,” she said.
Reed says some people might have arm soreness and fatigue, which is also associated with other vaccines, and symptoms tend to be stronger after the second shot.
However, people are excited to get chance at returning to some sort of normalcy they experienced before the COVID-19 and Reed has enjoyed seeing people feel optimistic.
“Everyone’s talking about seeing their grandparents, their children being able to interact with their friends as well as their grandparents. It’s exciting because it’s been long waiting to get this and people have been patient as they can to get this opportunity,” she said.