Richmond barber expresses concern over vaccine access

Richmond barber expresses concern over vaccine access

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As parts of the Commonwealth make moves to vaccinate people in group 1c if you look at the list of who would be eligible, you probably won’t find people like Vernon Powell, who is a barber at Mass Flow Barber Shop on Midlothian Turnpike.

“When you don’t have your hair cut you look at your worst,” Powell said.

Those with careers in energy, waste removal, housing and construction and food service are among the essential workers eligible to receive a vaccine in group 1c. Though barbers and hairstylists like Powell aren’t included in that list, he says the work he does is essential in its own way.

“You come here to Mass Flow Barber Shop feeling at your worst and walk out feeling like your best simply from the way you look, and if that’s not essential, I don’t know what is,” Powell said.

A year into the pandemic, Powell says that hasn’t changed. He and other barbers are still seeing a steady flow of customers are still coming barbershops continue to implement strict safety and sanitation measures, like masks and plastic barriers to keep everyone safe. But being a barber or hairstylist is a still skill that can’t be done from a safe social distance and with the number of clients he serves, Powell says it only makes sense to move people in those careers higher on the list to be vaccinated.

Virginia’s Phase 1c: Vaccinate Other Essential Workers Chart
Virginia’s Phase 1c: Vaccinate Other Essential Workers Chart (Source: VDH)

“It definitely would give the clients and ourselves a sense of comfort if we were listed as essential,” Powell said. “I’m sure Governor Northam and Mayor Stoney get hair cuts, but seeing that barbers haven’t been placed on the essential list makes me wonder where they get their haircuts at?”

This week the Virginia Department of Health said the decision to move from one phase to the next is made in coordination with local and state health officials and is dependent upon a variety of factors. Before moving to 1c, local health departments must have made strong efforts to reach all those eligible in 1a and 1b populations, particularly communities that have been disproportionately impacted, such as communities of color.

Health districts also must consider that the demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has decreased for those in Phases 1a and 1b.

Vernon hopes that after hearing his concerns that VDH can make the effort to give hairstylists the shortcut to the vaccine.

“We’re essential workers people come here to feel better,” Vernon said. “Put us at the top of the list because there are people that want to get the vaccine.”

For a complete list of those eligible in group 1c, click HERE.

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