Beginning Tuesday, the Blue Ridge Health District will close its main vaccination clinic at the old K-Mart parking lot and move it into the old JCPenney store in the Fashion Square Mall.

The new location offers more space and stability, health officials say.

“It provides us with about 100,000 square feet to space out,” said Ryan McKay, BRHD’s COVID-19 Incident Commander. That “gives us much more room in terms of distancing, providing ample space for the vaccinators, and increasing our ability to run a larger number of individuals on any given day.”

The space is large enough for the district to administer 2,000 vaccines per day, McKay said.

For now, the district has not received enough vaccines to administer that many. This week, it got 11,600 doses that are spread between multiple locations and agencies. 

But more are coming, McKay said. The district anticipates getting “a very substantial increase in vaccine supply” by early April.

“We recognize the need to expand and grow as we anticipate a larger allocation of vaccines in the coming weeks and months,” McKay said.

The district currently is vaccinating healthcare workers in Phase 1A and continues to work through qualified people in Phase 1B. Since February, it has focused on certain essential workers and people 65 and older. About two weeks ago, it opened appointments to people between 16 and 64 with high risk medical conditions. 

As of last week, around 16% of that group (who pre-registered with VDH to receive a vaccine) had gotten a vaccine. Meanwhile, 74% of pre-registered people 65 and older have received a vaccine.

For now, the BRHD will operate from JCPenney four days a week. As vaccine supplies increase, they may expand to five or six days per week.


Jessie Higgins

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