Why new Southside COVID-19 vaccination clinic is a ‘big win’

Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-22 19:15:57-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 800 people on Richmond’s Southside will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a new clinic that city leaders fought to bring to vulnerable neighborhoods.

Celebration Church on Midlothian Turnpike will host a Richmond-Henrico Health District mass vaccination clinic by-appointment-only on Tuesday.

Ninth-district Councilman Mike Jones called the new site a “big win for all Southside residents.”

“It’s huge. It’s going to make a big difference reaching a lot of our demographic and a lot of people we are struggling to reach,” he explained.

Early February, Councilpersons Ellen Robertson and Reva Trammell joined Jones for a press conference calling on state and local health leaders to focus vaccination efforts south of the river.

“Why do they have to go across the river? Why can’t they come here?” Trammell asked at the time.

Currently, there are two established vaccination clinics staged at the Richmond Raceway in Henrico’s East End and the Arthur Ashe Center located near the city’s Northside.

Jones had criticized those sites as far away and hard-to-reach for individuals who rely on the bus system for transportation.

The Southside site should improve access especially for Richmonders who cannot drive or don’t have access to a car.

“It’s right on the bus line. It’s in my backyard, I think it’s a huge win and I’m glad I can play a part of it,” Jones stated.

LaWanda Dunn, who works in COVID-19 Clinical Operations as a public health supervisor at RCHD, said the location was intentionally chosen.

“The incidents of COVID-19 are higher in that particular area,” Dunn stated. “We are reaching a community that is more susceptible to the impact of COVID-19.”

The areas along Midlothian Turnpike and surrounding the church are highlighted as communities in great need of help based on the CDC-social vulnerability index.

Jones and his council liaison, Summer Morris, have spent time and resources helping Seniors sign up for vaccines.

Those older individuals often don’t have access to the internet or an email address.

The Southside clinic will be operated once a week with more appointments made available as the number of doses increase, according to Dunn. No walk-ins are allowed.