Chesapeake Health Department to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Posted at 10:02 PM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 23:30:30-05

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Kim Holland and her husband, Curt, are patiently waiting their turn for the COVID-19 shot.

“We are eager, and of course we’re not going to let it drop, either,” said Kim Holland.

Curt is a heart transplant recipient, and Kim has a life-threatening lung condition known as interstitial lung disease, which causes progressive scarring of lung tissue. The underlying medical conditions put the Lynchburg couple at risk if exposed to the virus.

They’ve been working the phones for answers as to when they might be next in line for the vaccine.

“I’m not on the front line, and I understand the people that truly need the vaccine,” Kim Holland said. “We know the vaccine is important for both of us.”

The Hollands aren’t the only ones calling local health departments with questions this week about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Public Relations Coordinator of the Chesapeake Health Department Kimi Stevens said the office has been flooded with calls since Wednesday.

“It’s been non-stop, and the question has been, 'How can I make an appointment?'” she said.

The big question that doesn’t yet have an answer.

Stevens said vaccinations for health care workers are expected to wrap up by the end of the month. Meanwhile, they’re working out the details on plans to speed up efforts for the next group - frontline essential workers and those 65 and older.

The supply needed to fully carry out the plan, however, is leaving them in limbo. The state doesn’t know how many doses of the vaccine it’ll get each week.

“A lot of this is based on, we see how much vaccine we’re receiving,” Stevens said. “We don’t want to waste anything. So, if we know how much we’re getting, we know how much we can plan for, and we can execute it in a quick manner. It’s a quick turnaround.”

The health department is working with its community partners, including private providers and practices, to find a large-scale, safe and accessible location to open a mass vaccination site. On Tuesday, Jan. 12, the VBDPH opened a massive hub at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

The conference center in Chesapeake is one possibility for a mega vaccination clinic.

“We’re looking at whatever we can find in a big area - arenas, maybe even an airport, a drive-thru like we did for testing over the summer; everything’s on the table,” Stevens said. “All that stuff takes lawyers, and it takes time. We’re working as fast as we can to put as many on the table as we can.”

In the meantime, Stevens said they’ll have an information call line up and running soon for frequently asked vaccination questions about where and when people can get the shot. She said many general answers can be found on the VDH and Chesapeake Health Department’s website.

Thousands of eager people, including the Hollands, will have to hold tight for little while longer.

“We understand the benefit for ourselves and for our community that we get this vaccine,” said Kim Holland.

Once the mass vaccination clinic is up and running, the Chesapeake Health Department will start taking appointments. They plan on announcing when that will happen through the media, social media and its website.

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