NORFOLK, Va. — The Military Circle Mall mass vaccination clinic is here to stay after health department leaders determined to extend it through the month of August.
Virginia Department of Health Chief Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Parham Jaberi, said the extension comes as more cases of the virus appear in Virginia.
"We feel our presence is still important," said Dr. Jaberi. "We were at our lowest in mid-June, but unfortunately since then, we've seen a steady rise. We believe the Delta variant has a big part to do with it."
Dr. Jaberi said the clinic was vaccinating thousands of people per week in the late Spring, but they are now seeing only 200 to 300 people per week. There are many reasons this is the case, citing fewer people getting vaccinated and a wider accessibility through local pharmacies. He said while the numbers are lower, he believes the extension will still make an impact on vaccination rates.
"I think this is just so important as we think about bringing students back to school, but if these cases continue to go up, it puts all of us at risk," said Jaberi.
However, the efforts aren't confined by the parking lots at the Military Circle Mall. Virginia Beach EMS Division Chief Bruce Nedelka said his team is bringing the vaccine to people in other areas who otherwise couldn't travel to get it.
"Sometimes if it's an inconvenience, that will outweigh the importance. So, by us going out into the community, we will eliminate the inconvenience," said Nedelka. "It's not over yet. We need to do everything possible to get as many people vaccinated."
As the EMS department responds to COVID-19 patients, Nedelka said they see first-hand how the virus continues to spread. He said bringing the vaccine to pop-up clinics is one of the best ways they can reach herd immunity.
The Military Circle Mall clinic will continue every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon during the month of August. Dr. Jaberi said it is likely the clinic will be extended again into the Fall season.
Virginia Beach EMS is partnering with the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health to host a COVID-19 community vaccination clinic in the Senior Resource Center Thursday, July 29 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Individuals 12 years of age and older are eligible to be vaccinated, however, minors 12-17 years old must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
Author's Note: The above video is on file from July 6, 2021.