News Magazine

Hundreds in rural Prince George get vaccinated as VSU mobile units are introduced

PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Va (WRIC) — Two new mobile units will now help hundreds of more people get vaccinated in underserved communities like Petersburg and Hopewell.

Virginia State University purchased the units that will go out into public parks, migrant camps and other areas to get more vaccines into arms.

The Crater Health District used a mobile unit Wednesday to get shots into arms of around 300 employees at or near VSP Technologies in Prince George. This was a pilot for other events they’ll use the mobile unit in.

Alicia Durham is one of around 300 employees who works near VSP Technologies who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Wednesday.

“The time frame is accelerating for everyone and it’s really exciting to see. Virginia seems to be doing a really good job,” Durham told 8News.

Volunteers from the National Guard assisted in vaccinations. Crater Health District director Dr. Alton Hart Jr. said they will contract other volunteer groups as the mobile unit effort grows.

“We just want to make sure that we make the vaccines as available as possible,” said Dr. Hart.

Health districts are currently working with local emergency managers to map out communities that haven’t had access to the vaccine and bringing those mobile units there. Thursday and in the days following, they’ll go into underserved areas to get shots into arms.

Although there are people already recruited in these rural communities to get vaccines, Dr. Hart said future events could be open to the public in the area they’re in.

“The state is moving to Phase 2 on April 18 so that’ll provide an opportunity to have more events and open events and so we’re definitely making those plans right now,” he said.

The Crater Health District’s second event with the mobile unit will be held Thursday in Petersburg and Hopewell with the goal of vaccinating 200 more people.

It’s a closed event because the district has already worked with local emergency managers to recruit people for the vaccine there to make sure they are focusing on those in underserved communities. Dr. Hart told 8News leaders use census data to track which underserved communities they should bring the mobile units in to assist.

The VSU mobile health units will also go into areas of Chesterfield County within the next few weeks.

“The Virginia State University Public Health Institute will be an intricate part of our area’s foundation for a strong community-public health platform,” Dr.  Alexander Samuel, Health Director Chesterfield Department of Health said. “We are excited to assist with improving health outcomes of marginalized communities.”