NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The City of Newport News teamed up with Riverside Health System for a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in the city’s southeast neighborhood.
There was a special guest helping to administer the shots. Behind the face mask and white coat was Newport News Mayor, Dr. McKinley Price.
“It’s been great! When they find out who I am: ‘Oh wait a minute!’ They recognize me but it’s hard to tell with this mask and everything, but they recognize the name sometimes,” Price said.
Price is authorized to administer vaccines because he’s a dentist.
He said he’s hoping his participation will help highlight the importance of getting the shot. He also wanted to ensure there’s equitable access to the vaccine.
“We are here to make sure that we are distributing this vaccine equitably," Price said. "So we’re in a neighborhood where public transportation may be an issue or registering online. So we’re bringing the shots to the people.”
The clinic was held in the city’s southeast community. Long-distance truck driver, Randy Riddick was among the first group of people at the clinic to get the shot.
“I run 48 states so I need to get this because why? I’m traveling to different people, coming around different people so I needed this," Riddick said. "Plus, I’m looking as far as my wife – me being out here, I’m trying to keep everybody safe"
He got vaccinated by the mayor.
“It was good," Riddick said. "I said: ‘You’re done?’ He said: ‘Yeah!’ I said: ‘Ok!’ Just like that!”
Also volunteering to help out? Students from Hampton University.
Associate Professor Dr. Ethlyn Gibson said about 60 students from the school of nursing and the school of pharmacy have been taking turns volunteering, every weekend since December.
“It’s awesome for them to actually see people who might be their future patients,” Gibson said.
She said it’s a chance for students to get hands-on experience and a chance for the community to see future nurses and pharmacists in action.
“Many of them are actually brought to tears because they see someone who looks like them," Gibson said. "Many of them say, ‘I wish I could hug you, I wish I could kiss you’ - but they cant. But they said: ‘I know I’ll be able to hug my grandchild because you’re giving me a shot.’”
Volunteers plan to administer at least 500 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at the clinic.