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Norfolk focuses on COVID-19 vaccinations for minority groups, citing 'disproportionate effects' of virus

Norfolk leaders vaccinated a few hundred people Monday at a clinic in the Berkley-Campostella area, a new location picked for easier vaccine access.

NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk city leaders say when you look at the data, race - in addition to age and health risk - needs to play a role in who gets a COVID-19 vaccine shot.

Public health leaders gave out a few hundred shots at a clinic at the Southside STEM Academy at Campostella on Monday. It was a new clinic site picked to improve access to vaccinations for "underserved" Norfolk communities.

A few hundred Norfolk residents received their first dose at the invitation-only clinic. Many of the people invited to get shots were Black and Hispanic seniors.

“The minority community has had significantly higher rates of complications from COVID-19, for example over 70 percent of our hospitalizations have come from minority communities," said Dr. Demetria Lindsay, public health director for Norfolk. 

Lindsay said that means Norfolk needs to think differently about who gets a shot and when.

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"When we look and see a disproportionately high number of African-Americans and Hispanics adversely impacted, then that tells you we need to have a significant number vaccinated - particularly among the elderly - and quickly," Lindsay said.

Tenia Stone, who turns 100 years old later this month, received her first dose Monday at the clinic.

“When I got this shot I said - Lord, thank God I’ve come this far by faith," Stone said. "Oh, it feels good."

Stone said she had been telling herself that everything would be alright after she gets the vaccine.

“It’s all over with, I’ll be glad when all this stuff is over with, not only for me for the younger people too," Stone said.

She'll come back in a few weeks for her second dose.

Norfolk plans to change clinic locations and reach out to people registered for a vaccine dose by zip code in order to make it easier for people in different parts of the city to get a shot. 

These targeted methods can also work to boost vaccination rates in communities that may be lacking.

The city did not say when or where it plans to hold its next clinic, but clinics are invitation-only right now.

Norfolk leaders said they could only offer a few hundred shots Monday based on their current weekly vaccine supply.

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