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Berglund Center hosts mass vaccination clinic

Published: Jan. 23, 2021 at 5:27 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Many folks 65 and older in the Roanoke Valley were able to take their first steps toward COVID-19 protection Saturday.

Carilion Clinic and the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts hosted a mass COVID-19 vaccine event at the Berglund Center Saturday, January 23, and Sunday, January 24.

“When I walked in, not only was there not much of a line, but what was there was moving very rapidly. It’s clear to see they have a very efficient setup here; everybody is in such high spirits,” said Robin Reed, a WDBJ7 anchor.

Reed was able to get a shot of the Pfizer vaccine Saturday at the Berglund Center along with 2,015 other people who are 65 and older.

“I felt lucky to even have an opportunity to be in on Saturday, and I understand it filled up within another hour, so clearly the demand was there, but I will say that the website they chose to get this registration done was fairly easy to understand,” Reed said.

Carilion Clinic and the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts partnered to run this COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

“We’ve had a lot of people show up today with their scheduled appointments, and there have been a lot of emotions today, so both on the staff side and patients, everybody is excited to have this available for them, we’ve had a few tears,” said Tim Auwarter, vice president of ancillary services for Carilion Clinic.

Even though around 4,000 people could register for this weekend’s vaccine event, there are still many who could not because Carilion says the supply is not available yet.

“We’re aware there’s a large waiting list, upwards of 15,000-plus for the vaccine [in the Roanoke and Alleghany Health Districts], so again, as we can work together, get more vaccines into arms, we think there’s a lot of demand,” Auwarter explained.

As more supply comes in, Carilion and the Virginia Department of Health hope to do more mass vaccine clinics like this one.

“Piece of cake; it was beautiful, came in, walked right in, registered, came down here, got my shot, and just waiting to leave, and that’s it,” said Cheryl Quenisberry, who got the vaccine Saturday.

“We had 12 appointments every five minutes to bring them through, and that was by design; we wanted to have social distancing, we wanted to give people room to feel safe,” Auwarter said.

If anyone is still on the fence about getting the vaccine, “I would simply say that I encourage it. I feel like it’s safe and it’s a good step to allow us to maybe reenter a more normal summer, fall, winter pattern,” Reed said.

Around 2,000 people ages 65 and older will be back at the Berglund Center Sunday for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Carilion officials say companies may be coming out soon with vaccines that only need one dose, so that should help speed up the vaccine rollout.

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