HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Thousands of seniors received their COVID-19 vaccination at the first of three vaccination events for Richmond and Henrico health districts, or RHHD.
Henrico County’s Chief of Emergency Management, Jackson Baynard, led the clinic and says Saturday’s event had the potential to be the largest of its kind in the district so far.
“Today we actually have the capability to do 5,800 vaccinations, which is pretty exciting to have that vaccine capability built,” Baynard said.
Though officials were prepared to administer the near 6,000 doses reserved for the event, they only expected to give out 3,300 shots due to issues reaching many of those who had pre-registered.
“One of the challenges we have faced during this pandemic and the vaccination effort has been registration, and I know it’s been very confusing for our seniors in the community on how to register,” Baynard said. “Rest assured, none of the vaccines will go to waste, because we will just create another clinic next week where we can get the shots into the arms of people.”
Saturday was RHHD’s first clinic where 100% of the seniors who showed up for their vaccines were preregistered solely through the Vaccine Administration Management System, or VAMS.
Baynard said as of Saturday, more than 25,000 new vaccine interest forms were uploaded to the VAMS system. He said more people should expect to be notified Monday or Wednesday by the health district for next week’s clinics.
“As we move forward with the VAMS system, we are going to be able to preregister people a little bit easier, we hope,” Baynard said.
Baynard says it’s possible that the health district will be able to administer up to 6,000 shots within a 10-hour period in the near future. On average, the health district says it’s capable of administering between 500 and 600 shots per hour.
The health department got some much-needed support delivering those shots from VCU medical students, like Meena Meyyappan.
“This is actually my first one,” Meyyappan said. “As first-year medical students, we’re doing a lot of online stuff right now, so it’s really cool to be able to go out into the community and step out to be involved in this huge pandemic in any way that we can.”
Meyyappan is part of VCU’s vaccine corp, which has trained hundreds of health professional students on administering vaccines with thousands more volunteering their time.
“It’s a pretty extensive training. We did an online module about the vaccine and [learned] how to administer them in person,” Mayyappan said. “Personally it’s been really amazing to get out here and remember why I even did medicine.”
“Our school nurses continue to be some of the leaders out here, doing our vaccinations and also helping us train our other vaccinators as we keep moving forward,” Baynard said.
The VCU Vaccine Corp was just one example of the extra support needed to pull the event off.
“We have a combination of resources from the National Guard, VCU’s vaccination folks, [Medical Reserve Corps’] volunteer folks, police, fire, EMS, Henrico County and the city of Richmond were all here ready to do that,” Baynard said.
Monday, the Richmond Raceway will be holding its first vaccine clinic administering the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the vaccine only required one dose to be fully protected from COVID-19.
“Our plan is to be here at the Richmond Raceway until we can get the entire health district vaccinated,” Baynard said. “We have the resources here, we have the vaccination supply that the health department really worked hard on giving, so we have the capability and we’re ready to put shots in arms.”
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