NORFOLK, Va. — The FEMA-led Community Vaccination Clinic at Military Circle Mall is now giving people the option to choose between the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
More than 67,000 shots and counting have been given out at the former Macy’s. With less than two weeks left to give out shots, the Norfolk clinic opted to add Pfizer back on the list for everyone.
The original plan was to only provide Johnson & Johnson's single-dose coronavirus vaccine the last two weeks of operation. Then, the plan was to only give teenagers ages 16 and 17 the option to get Pfizer shots. Now, all adults can choose which vaccine they prefer.
“We initially had stopped giving first doses because we weren’t going to be here to give the second dose. [Virginia Department of Health (VDH)] is going to pick up those second doses from us. It allows us to continue first doses and give additional vaccines,” said Tim Smith, Deputy Site Manager at Military Circle.
Since Johnson & Johnson's vaccine started being offered May 5, only about 1,000 people have taken it since it was temporarily halted in the U.S. after a rare blood clot occurred in 15 out of nearly 8 million people.
“I think the familiarity with Pfizer is pushing more towards that area, and it’s more familiarity than it is the science,” said Smith.
The FEMA operation and ends next Saturday, May 22.
People who choose to go the Pfizer route, like Gary Wooden, will have an appointment for their second shot scheduled for them with the health department before they leave the mall.
“I’m just tired of keep taking chances, so I decided to do the right thing,” said Wooden.
There are endless reasons why people choose to get vaccinated. For Wooden, he wanted to make his home a safer place.
“I got loved ones, and I don’t want them to get sick if I bring something home to them. I feel like I would be responsible, so that’s why I decided to step my game up and do what I have to do,” said Wooden.
People can walk up to get their shot seven days a week from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
The total vaccine allocation for the clinic is 140,000 first and second doses of the Pfizer and 28,000 of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
FEMA says VDH will take possession of the leftover vaccines and distribute them as they see fit across the Commonwealth once the Community Vaccination Center closes.