by Siera Jones
Sentara Healthcare has opened a permanent Covid-19 vaccination center in downtown Norfolk that aims to deliver thousands of doses two days a week. The center is located at the Norfolk Scope Arena and is now open for walk-ins and appointments on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but Sentara spokesperson Kelly Kennedy has assured the public that the current two-day-a-week availability is only the beginning of the vaccination campaign.
During the first three weeks of operation, the Scope clinic will be open on Tuesdays 3-7 p.m., and Wednesdays 8 a.m.-12 noon. During this first stage of vaccination services, only first doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered.
Sentara Healthcare will provide staff in collaboration with Norfolk’s state-run public health department in the vaccination drive. Sentara hosted two previous clinics in January and February, but this effort has been carefully organized to make Scope Norfolk’s first permanent vaccination site.
The Scope clinic now has the resources to administer 2,340 doses a day, and in its first two days of operation about 1,400 of those doses were used.
Appointments and walk-ins are available to anyone age 16 and over, and Sentara’s goal is to create an experience that is simple, and easily accessible to the community. The site’s location in the center of downtown Norfolk was carefully determined with the convenience of vulnerable community members in mind. Additionally, Sentara is launching a website with smooth and simple registration options that will improve residents’ experiences.
Invitations to the clinic were sent to the Norfolk community via email this week and will continue to be sent out in the upcoming weeks. Sentara draws their email list from the state’s Vaccinate Virginia system. To register for the Vaccinate Virginia email system visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682).
Although walk-in vaccinations are available, registering for an appointment is highly encouraged as the Scope clinic begins to reach maximum capacity.
The clinic will eventually expand to a full-day schedule; offering both first and second doses of the vaccine. The number of available vaccines per day will vary depending on the Scope’s supply of vials from the health department, but Sentara aims to eventually vaccinate up to 5,000 Norfolk health district residents per day.
During the clinic’s second stage, Sentara will offer first doses in the morning and second doses in the evenings on Tuesdays, and on Wednesdays, the schedule will reverse with second doses of the Pfizer vaccine being administered in the morning and first doses in the evening.
A permanent clinic of this size requires up to 200 volunteers in order to run smoothly, and Sentara is seeking volunteers for clinical and non-clinical work. Community supporters are encouraged to volunteer to register and check-in visitors, serve as greeters, and provide wheelchair assistance for those who come to the clinic.