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'We want to do our part' | Charlotte Motor Speedway opens mass COVID-19 vaccine clinic

Charlotte Motor Speedway became North Carolina's first major sporting venue to offer mass COVID-19 vaccines, with over 16,000 appointments this weekend.

CONCORD, N.C. — Over 16,000 people will get their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord this weekend, as the facility became the first major sporting venue in North Carolina to transition to a mass vaccination clinic. 

The clinic, which runs through Sunday, is by appointment only. All available appointments for the clinic this weekend are already taken. Atrium Health said they anticipating giving up to 16,000 vaccines by Sunday. The clinic opened its gates at 7:30 a.m. Friday for the first appointments.

"We want to do our part to try to help people get out and about again," said Scott Cooper, senior vice president of public relations at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Taking this vaccine is really a step in that direction."

The clinic is part of a public-private partnership announced by Atrium Health last week to establish mass vaccination sites and inoculate 1 million North Carolinians by July 4.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County COVID-19 vaccination appointments fill up quickly

More than 5,000 people were scheduled to get their vaccine Friday alone. A few people who got the vaccine late Friday morning said they were impressed by how quickly they got through.

"I feel great," one woman said. "It was painless and quick and efficient and professional. It was great."

"My hand's numb," another person said. "My arm's a little sore, but that's about it so far. [But], it was very smooth. Everything went great."

For the speedway's clinic, Honeywell implemented some of its supply chain and production processes, including the use of handheld scanners and printers, as well as data entry and traffic management techniques.

"This is an incredible day. I was very, very nervous this morning," Torsten Pilz, Honeywell's Chief Supply Chain Officer, said. "I'm not relieved yet. It's going to take a little bit till Sunday."

As of mid-afternoon, the clinic was getting through an additional 12 to 15 cars more per hour than organizers originally estimated.

Atrium Health confirmed a few people who got the vaccine developed an allergic reaction.

Cabarrus County EMS said they took two people from the speedway to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries following allergic reactions.

Atrium Health said if they have any leftover vaccines, they have a waitlist of people who are by their phones ready to come out to get their shots.

"Our commitment is that we will not waste a dose and we have those contingency plans in place," Dr. Scott Rissmiller, Atrium Health's Chief Physician Executive, said.

Randy Faulkenberry and his wife are scheduled to get their COVID-19 vaccines Saturday, but they drove through the speedway Thursday afternoon to familiarize themselves with the complex.

"Just making sure we know where to go, how to get there, and just wait in line with everyone else," Faulkenberry said. "We're so excited about getting it because you don't know who has it, who doesn't have it, and just to protect ourselves and our loved ones."

A speedway security officer said several people with appointments have been stopping by Thursday to get an idea of the property's layout.

Atrium Health is also partnering with Tepper Sports and Entertainment to hold a mass vaccine clinic at Bank of America Stadium next weekend.

Representatives said they plan to vaccinate somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 people.

"We're watching and learning everything that's happening out at the speedway today, tomorrow and Sunday," Tom Glick, President of Tepper Sports and Entertainment, said. "We'll have a different set-up by virtue of the stadium and our downtown location."

Atrium Health lists Bank of America's mass vaccination clinic as a walk-up event, and appointments are still required. 

Cooper said they'll have more information soon on future vaccine clinics at the speedway.

RELATED: Rock Hill establishing community vaccination clinic

RELATED: Mecklenburg County to start pop-up vaccine clinics in underserved communities as vaccine supply goes up