This COVID-19 vaccination clinic is staffed almost entirely by Virginia National Guard members

New clinic opens to bring the vaccine to rural Virginia
Posted at 10:02 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 22:10:23-04

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va. -- A new community vaccination clinic started operations in Nottoway County this week. The Piedmont Health District-run clinic is different than other clinics across the state.

It is only one of two Virginia clinics predominantly staffed by the Virginia National Guard.

The clinic is at the Guard's armory in Blackstone.

"You'll see a lot of green uniforms, much more so than civilians," Virginia National Guard Lt. Col. Juanita Rohler, Task Force Cavalier Commander, said. "You have National Guard members who are doing vaccinations, as well as National Guard providing the complete logistics support for the site."

Piedmont Health District Acting Director Dr. Sulola Adekoya said the Nottoway clinic will help get more Virginians vaccinated.

"Having something out here in the rural area allows people, reduces the travel time," Dr. Adekoya said.

Mass vaccination clinic at Virginia National Guard Armory

Zach Maddox was among those getting a vaccine at the clinic this week.

"Emotionally -- relieved. Glad that, you know, finally vaccinated. Don't have to worry as much," Maddox said about his vaccine experience.

He said he qualified in Phase 1b, but had not yet had a chance to get to a clinic.

"I'm not anti-Vax at all. I just didn't have time, but now finally do," he said.

Emily Rice, who also qualified before Phase 2, said she hesitated to get a vaccine for a number of reasons.

"I had my doubts about it," Rice said. "I decided to get it, but my husband is not going to get it."

State officials have said in recent weeks that demand for the vaccine has been declining in rural areas. Dr. Adekoya said they have noticed a decrease in Piedmont consistent with other parts of the state.

"People feel, 'Well, I don't really need to get vaccinated,' and also, sometimes, people just not trusting the vaccine," Dr. Adekoya said. "So, we still have some work to do in terms of education and reaching out to our community."

Dr. Adekoya said while they still encourage people to use the state website or call center to sign up for an appointment ahead of time, if someone shows up without an appointment, they'll register the person on-site for the first available appointment.