VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — On December 14, 2020, the first coronavirus vaccines went to healthcare workers in Queens, New York.
The state was a COVID-19 hotspot at the height of the pandemic.
It was a critical moment that kicked off the country's mass vaccination campaign and signaled a turning point in the battle against a virus that has claimed more than 600,000 American lives to date.
Six months later, the mission to vaccinate as many people as possible is still ongoing.
The Virginia Department of Health's Eastern Regional Health Emergency Coordinator John Cooke said their focus, now, is on reaching as many communities as possible with the vaccine. That's where their mobile unit comes in.
"It's been quite a whirlwind," Cooke said. "And quite frankly, it started a year before that with the first announcement that I got an e-mail from the epidemiologist that 'Hey we should keep eyes on this,' And that was a year and a half ago."
The mobile clinic moves from place to place in rural and underserved areas where accessing a vaccine isn't easy. No appointment is necessary and the vaccine is free.
As fewer people show up to clinics, Cooke said efforts are winding down.
"It comes and goes, it's up and down. We've been very, very busy and now we're sort of – coming to the end of the vaccination campaign," he said.
But the percent positivity rate is also low, so Cooke said they're not losing focus; And the more vaccinated a community is, the better.
"Every shot that we give to folks is one more person who is protected," Cooke said.
"Herd immunity is not a tangible sort of thing. As you can imagine – there's no notification, there's no whistle that goes off or bell that rings or statistic that signals herd immunity. It's more an observation."
Healthcare workers in Virginia have administered more than 8.6 million doses to date. About 47% of the state is fully vaccinated.
According to a release from the Virginia Department of Health, there are 11 mobile clinics set up this week. All are offering the single-dose Johnson and Johnson shot:
- June 14, 9 a.m. to noon, Level Green Park 15 Level Green Blvd.
- June 14, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., The Gathering at Scott Memorial UMC 409 First Colonial Rd.
- June 15, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Big Charlie's Truck Plaza 5792 Northampton Blvd.
- June 15, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Farm Fresh parking lot 928 Diamond Springs Rd.
- June 16, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., STEM Academy 1106 Campostella Rd.
- June 16, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Barraud Park 2540 Barraud Ave.
- June 17, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Harbor Park - Tides game 150 Park Ave.
- June 18, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., Oakwood Chapel Church 982 Avenue E
- June 18, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Young Terrace Community Center 804 Whitaker Lane
- June 19, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Virginia Zoo 3500 Granby St.
- June 20, 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Ebenezer Baptist Church 9504 Occohannock Neck Rd. Exmore
Author's Note: The video below is on file from June 7, 2021.