Greensboro chosen for federal pilot program of community vaccination centers

On Wednesday March 10, what used to be a Dillard’s department store at the Four Seasons Town Centre in Greensboro opened its doors as a community vaccination center where thousands of people got their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Greensboro was strategically chosen by the Biden administration to be a part of the federal pilot program for community vaccination centers. This program comes at great timing as criti- cism was erupting from several N.C. hospital systems. These hospital systems were facing a shortage of vaccines as North Carolina’s weekly vaccine allotment from the Centers for Disease Control was being sent to mass vaccination sites in Charlotte, reducing or eliminating their supply and resulting in thousands of vaccine appointment cancellations. The State Department argued that CDC vaccine allotments had to be moved to mass vaccination centers to speed up vaccinations, but local officials criticized this move arguing it was poorly communicated and inequitable.

Using the Four Seasons mall in Greensboro will help combat this inequity. Greensboro was chosen because of its ability to reach historically mar- ginalized and underserved communities. The federally-supported vaccine center will administer 3,000 doses daily for eight weeks and also support mobile clinics in surrounding areas to help reach more people in marginalized communities. The 3,000 doses come in addition to the CDC vaccines allotted to N.C. health systems. During the first six weeks, the Pfizer vaccine will be given and there are plans for the last two weeks to administer the new single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Appointments are required to receive a vaccine at the Four Seasons center, where people can choose to either walk inside for a vaccine or go through a drive through. If the walk-in clinic is chosen, patients must go through the mall to the old Dillard’s location to check in for their appointment. At the location, members from the Air Force and National Guard guide and run the process. First, one must sign in at the entrance. Then, there is a second checkpoint to confirm the name and date of birth written on the official vaccination card. After everything is confirmed, people are led to an open space with several socially-distanced chairs to receive the vaccine. The entire procedure only takes about 20-30 minutes and after receiving the first dose, an appointment for the second dose is automatically scheduled.

As of March 10, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 18.1 percent of the state has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This number will grow in the next weeks as more vaccines are administered and made available.

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