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Virginia Shifts Focus to Mobile, Nimble Vaccinations

Virginia Department of Health

Health districts across the Commonwealth are hoping new, smaller events can help reach vaccination goals, as mass clinics see less traffic.

Starting Thursday people in the Richmond area can request a small team to vaccinate people at a site of their choice. The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts say shifting to a model with fewer staff will make them more nimble.

“This switch to much smaller teams will allow us to vaccinate and educate in more areas across our city and really meet people where they are,” said Amy Popovich, who is the Nurse Manager of the health districts at a press conference Wednesday. The smaller teams do not represent a reduction in overall staff, according to a Cat Long, a spokesperson for the health districts.

This is a local version of a strategy seen across the state. The Virginia Department of Health has vendor-operated mobile vaccine clinics in the Western, Central, and Eastern regions which have one or two clinics each day.

Richmond and Henrico Health Districts is operating their version, in which businesses, individuals, and organizations can request a “Cool Cube Crew” to administer vaccines over a few hours at the requesters’ site. The Health Districts named the teams after the equipment used to keep vaccines cool during transport between events.

Public health officials have also been reaching out to groups they say have lacked access or may not have booked appointments yet.

We're hopeful that this new framework of vaccinations will make it as easy as possible for folks to get vaccinated,” said Long.

“Our outreach team have focused their efforts over the last several months in areas throughout our city that have high social vulnerability index and low vaccine uptake,” said Popovich.

The mobile clinics means vaccines can go to where unvaccinated people are. Richmond’s Black residents have received about a quarter of vaccines, while they make up just under half of the city’s population.

Richmond’s vaccination rate is lower than the state average. 51% of adults have gotten one shot, while across Virginia it's 67%. President Joe Biden wants 70% of adults to have a shot by July 1.

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