Local patients gather to receive COVID-19 vaccine for health, personal and sentimental reasons

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Posted at 3:02 PM, Jan 30, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. -- Saturday was long-awaited for those here at the Scope Arena. Staff from Sentara gave doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients like Carla Morrisette.

"I have a lot of medical problems. That was a big part of it,” Morrisette said. “We both just want to be safe from it."

It was also personal to other patients, especially to some more than others. Ken Lupp, another patient who received the vaccine, knows the devastating and mortal consequences the virus can have.

"I've already lost two family members to COVID. I do not wish to be the third,” Lupp said.

A man from Virginia Beach who did not want to disclose his name explained he got the vaccine because of his family.

"I have young family members and older family members, and I just want to feel comfortable being in the presence of them,” the man said.

Sentara provided 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines. Exactly 5,000 doses were administered at the Scope Arena. People started arriving before 7 a.m. when the facility opened. The other 5,000 doses were given at the convention center in Hampton.

People walked into the Scope Arena after being welcomed by a greeter asking if people had appointments. Lines outside were non-existent.

"No one is out here,” Iris Lundy, the director of health equity for Sentara, said. “You would think we'd have people outside, but it's not."

Patients, including Morrisette, mentioned the process of being seen was fast. Some said they were seen even before their scheduled appointment time.

Sentara used Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. The healthcare system also said all 5,000 appointment slots were filled.

All patients were pre-registered for appointments, and this was not a public walk-in event.

"I know that we would not waste, not one dose,” Lundy said. “There are probably going to be people who come up who want it."

Related: List of Hampton Roads and surrounding areas COVID-19 vaccination plans

Not all patients were Sentara patients. Some were also community members who were eligible to receive the vaccine in Phase 1b.

Local churches and organizations helped some of those residents who may have had difficulty signing up for appointments.

"I feel really good about our process, and I think we're going to learn things of what we could've done better,” Lundy said. “We will implement that for the next time, and we'll be ready to serve our community."

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