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'Behind-the-scenes logistics you can't imagine' | Hampton long-term care facilities begin COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Some health districts in Virginia are moving to Phase 1B of coronavirus vaccine distribution.

HAMPTON, Va. — It’s unclear when exactly the COVID-19 pandemic will end, but for at least one day this January, a long-term care facility in Hampton had caught a glimpse of hope about when that might be.

On Friday, Coliseum Convalescent and Rehabilitation Center held its first COVID-19 vaccine clinic day, the first within the larger Virginia Health Services system.

VHS oversees several long-term care facilities in both Hampton and Newport News. Nursing homes and staff are among the "Phase 1A" designation in the state of Virginia for prioritized vaccine distribution.

Previous reporting from 13News Now showed vaccine distribution at nursing homes would come in the form of clinic days with the support of local pharmacy partners.

Walgreens assisted VHS's first clinic day at Coliseum, administering doses to 90 of the facility's 100 residents. A total of 180 doses were administered between residents, facility staff as well as other VHS employees. 

“There’s a lot of moving parts, there’s the behind-the-scenes logistics you can’t imagine," said Rebecca Boyd, a registered nurse and Vice President of Nursing with VHS. 

Patients were screened prior to the vaccine injection and then moved to a separate room so staff could watch for any adverse reactions or side effects from the vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is administered in two separate doses, weeks apart. VHS is scheduling three clinic days per facility, to allow for patients who haven't consented to the vaccine by the first availability to still have the opportunity later.

“We all have just been looking for that ray of light at the end of the tunnel. We haven’t had it until today. Now we feel like, 'Wow, that’s that breathe of fresh air.' This may be the start," Boyd said. 

COVID safety protocols remain in place indefinitely, according to Boyd, with cases still rising across Virginia.

The long-term goal is for daily operations inside the facilities to return to some sense of normalcy as the vaccine is more widely distributed. 

“Everyone wants the visitation to return. We’re hoping maybe we can have a reduction of PPE, so we can start more communal dining, and reduce some of the social distancing that’s going on," Boyd said.