NORFOLK, Va. – Getting Mrs. Emma White to a vaccination clinic for her COVID-19 shot took quite a bit of convincing from her family.
“At first I really didn’t want to get it,” said White. “I don’t like to be stuck with a needle. I think that was my biggest hesitant.”
FEMA, the Virginia National Guard and VDH teamed up with community leaders Saturday to set up a one-day, walk-up clinic at Southside STEM Academy at Campostella.
The joint operation in Hampton Roads is the first for the federal agency and National Guard.
“Our specific team is able to fill smaller gaps as needed,” said Lt. Kyle Rash with the Virginia National Guard.
The goal is to get the shot to critical populations, targeting the Southside neighborhoods of Norfolk that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
David Thomason, FEMA’s deputy external affairs officer for the Military Circle Mall Community Vaccination Center said the vaccines used at the one-day clinic were extra doses from the Military Mall site, drawn from the federal government’s allocation.
“COVID has affected Latino communities, Latin X communities and African American communities adversely and we wanted to target those communities to make it as accessible as we can to get vaccines to these people,” Thomason said.
According to VDH, of those in Virginia vaccinated with at least one dose, about 14% are Black and 8.9% are Latino. Of the Norfolk residents vaccinated with at least one shot, 30% are Black and 6.7% are Latino.
The civic league rallied to bring the vaccine clinic to Southside in just a matter of days. Then, they did their best to quickly spread the word.
“We had pretty good turnout just on the fact that we only had three days to go knock on doors, put flyers up, put banners out and let people know about this,” said Campostella Heights Civic League President Lawrence Brown.
Word of mouth is what brought Mrs. White in for her shot. She lives near Southside STEM Academy.
White said her reluctance to being poked with a needle is subsiding.
“It went fine, better than I thought it was going to be. I’m thinking of doing it again,” she laughed.
FEMA officials said it’s likely they’ll set up another one-day, walk-up vaccination clinic depending on the need.