‘Hope is within sight’: First mass vaccination clinic in Roanoke Valley fully booked

Carilion and VDH are teaming up to vaccinate 4,000 adults 65 and older

ROANOKE, Va. – The next step of vaccine distribution in the Roanoke Valley was announced Wednesday.

Carilion and the Virginia Department of Health announced mass clinics for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

After lots of confusion and frustration over a slow COVID vaccine rollout, hope is on the horizon for thousands.

Carilion and VDH are teaming up to vaccinate 4,000 adults 65 and older in the Roanoke Valley this weekend.

Appointments were gone in less than three hours.

“Which for me was really heartening to know that there was this level of interest in the community and really encouraging that our community is this interested in protecting themselves,” said Chad Alvarez, leader of Carilion’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force.

It’s the first-of-its-kind event in our area, though health leaders said it will be similar to how they’ve vaccinated first responders.

Waves of people will come to the Berglund Center for their shots over a 12-hour period both Saturday and Sunday.

The goal is to vaccinate 200 people an hour.

With such a massive operation comes challenges that all come down to demand.

“Hope is within sight. We can see it but we can’t necessarily reach it,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.

Some had trouble registering and many couldn’t at all because of limited spots.

Leaders from the health department and Carilion ensure their partnership will get shots in arms as efficiently and effectively as possible but it’s all dependent on supply.

“That really dictates a lot of our planning but I think we have the model now for how we can stand up these large pods,” Alvarez said.

“If we could wave a magic wand, we would have enough vaccine for everybody and we can’t. We need to be honest about that. We can’t today but over time, we’re going to be able to have clinics like this,” Morrow said.

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