NORFOLK, Va. — Smiling ear-to-ear, Elaine Reed felt a sense of relief and gratitude as a healthcare worker pushed her in a wheelchair to get to her car Tuesday morning.
Reed, a resident of Norfolk, received her first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at Sentara Healthcare's vaccine clinic inside the Norfolk Scope Arena.
“I feel good,” said Reed.
She almost didn’t make it to the clinic.
"At first I thought it was a joke or something," Reed said. "Then I opened the email and found that it was good."
She had received her invitation to set up an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine at the Scope Arena clinic.
April 6 was the opening of the vaccine clinic, which is planned to run twice a week at the venue. It’s a collaboration between Sentara Healthcare, the City of Norfolk, and the Norfolk Health Department.
Heather Strock, the regional director of Sentara’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, said on Tuesday about 700 people received the first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine. On Wednesday, between 600 and 700 people received their first doses.
The goal is to ramp things up and administer 2,300 first doses of the vaccine per day next week, and then 5,000 first and second doses per day after that.
In the first week of April, the team is vaccinating everyone eligible under Phase 1 and Phase 2.
The Scope clinic will run Tuesday evenings from 3-7 p.m., and Wednesday mornings from 8 a.m.-noon. Beginning April 27, Scope will become an all-day clinic.
“It really serves the community of Norfolk and others,” said Strock. “It was a regional easy access with lots of parking, walking [distance], it serves a lot of the community that really needed to get here in different ways.”
Michael Capella, a resident of Norfolk, said the easy access allowed him to walk over and get vaccinated. For him, the vaccine is a step toward normalcy.
“Now I can get up with friends and family, cookouts, now’s the time... so looking forward to that,” said Capella.
Jada Bailey, a 23-year-old from Chesapeake, said she jumped at the chance to get vaccinated when she received the email invitation for an appointment.
“It’s for the good of everyone, and we’re just ready to get back out there and live our lives again,” Bailey said.
If you’re looking to get a vaccine at the Scope Arena, make sure you pre-register. Limited walk-ups will be allowed, but an appointment is the best way to ensure a dose will be available for you.
Sentara is working on a brand new website to make registration easier. A spokesperson said it’ll launch sometime next week. Sentara’s registration system is separate from the Virginia Dept. of Health.
Sentara’s clinics are currently in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, and another clinic will soon open in Newport News, but the exact location has yet to be determined.