HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- One by one, thousands of folks 75 years and older lined up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at the Richmond Raceway on Saturday.
“I never been so happy to get a shot in all my life," Mary Cananda said. “I wouldn’t have gotten it today if it wasn’t for my doctor. She got on the computer [and] got my shot for me. I’m here.”
The 84-year-old was one of thousands who signed up to get a shot Saturday. It is something she has been waiting on for some time now.
“I live by myself and I’ve had to function and do everything, you know, unless I really need help," Cananda said. "I would like to continue -- so that’s why I was really anxious to get out here to get the shot.”
Saturday's mass vaccination event was the largest clinic held yet in Henrico with more than 5,000 seniors expected to have been vaccinated before the clinic closed at 8 p.m.
“We’re doing about 523 folks are getting vaccinated per hour here currently," Henrico County Chief of Emergency Management Jackson Baynard said.
Baynard said officials gave vaccines to those who registered in the Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, New Kent, Charles City and Goochland counties, along with the City of Richmond. He added that everyone must have an appointment before showing up.
"I know people are anxious to get the vaccine, we want to get to you, the health district want to get to you," Baynard said. "So fill out the phase 1B interest form, and we will get to you. It just takes some time because of vaccine supply.”
Some people said that while the process was smooth, patience was needed to wait in the line.
“I got here at about 10:30 and it was about quarter to 12 until I finally got into this building," Sandy Vancleef said. "Once you get in, it goes very smoothly.”
With one vaccine down, Canada said she will be back in a few weeks for her second dose. She hopes everyone else who is eligible will do the same.
“I’m going to tell all my friends and neighbors that I talk to, to please get the shot, please get the shot because we need it, we really do," Cananda said.
How thousands of seniors can get a COVID vaccine
People aged 75+ who live in Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent or Powhatan counties as well as the City of Richmond can fill out a COVID-19 vaccine interest form with their local health department will get vaccinated. [SCROLL DOWN]
All qualifying individuals who are interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine should fill out the appropriate interest form or call for assistance:
- Richmond City and Henrico County or call 804-205-3501
- Chesterfield Health District -- Chesterfield and Powhatan counties or call 804-318-8207
- Chickahominy Health District -- Hanover, Goochland, New Kent and Charles City counties or call 804-365-3240
If you or a loved one filled out an interest form, you are urged to answer the phone and check email for details about the mass vaccination events. Sunday's event has been rescheduled, because of winter weather in the forecast, to Tuesday.
Officials noted Friday that there were"still many vaccination appointment slots for Tuesday."
"Schedulers will work through the interest form lists; seniors will receive one e-mail and two phone calls before the scheduler moves on to the next person," Cat Long, with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, wrote in an email. "Directions in the e-mail must be completed by the deadline listed. Due to the high volume of registrations, we are unable to accept calls back from seniors, so it is important they answer the phone."
Phone calls will be made between 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. until all appointments are filled.
RELATED: How you can get on a COVID-19 vaccine waitlist
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.