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Mobile vaccination clinics reach out to rural areas

Two white popup tents placed side by side across from the Prospect Post Office sheltering four women in nursing scrubs signaled something was different about this rainy Saturday morning.

The COVID-19 vaccine had come to Prospect.

The mobile vaccination clinics bring the vaccine to small communities in Prince Edward County, giving residents the opportunity to get their shot without traveling to Farmville or another more populated area. Two and half hours into the three-hour clinic in

Puckett said in addition to the mobile clinics and regular clinics in Farmville, those wanting the vaccine can now walk into Walmart, CVS or Walgreens any day to receive the shot.

Prospect, eight people had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This was the third mobile vaccination clinic in Prince Edward County.

“The county identified locations that we felt would have a traffic pattern of people that we could try and capture their interest but also based on the community and what we know about the vaccination data,” Prince Edward Assistant County Administrator and Emergency Management Coordinator Sarah Puckett, who was at the site Saturday morning, said.

“We tried to find locations where we thought the community would be interested or maybe didn’t have the mobility to always come into Farmville. That was really important in the decision-making for the county and identifying the locations.”

The mobile clinics are held on weekends, giving those who may work Monday through Friday an opportunity to receive the vaccine.

Prince Edward County continues to trail surrounding counties in per capita vaccinations. The county is listed on the Virginia Department of Health website as having 28.3% of its population fully vaccinated compared to 31.5% of Cumberland residents, 32.8% of Buckingham County residents, 31.9% of residents of Appomattox County and 33.68% of Nottoway County residents. County officials blame college students whose vaccinations may be credited to their home addresses and zip codes that overlap into neighboring counties as part of the problem for the disparity. State-wide, 55.3% of Virginia’s population is fully vaccinated.

Currently, there are only six localities in Virginia with a “fully vaccinated” rate lower than Prince Edward County.

Last weekend, Meherrin and Verso had vaccination clinics. More than 20 people came out to the mobile clinic in Meherrin.

Puckett said the mobile clinics are the first opportunity for county residents to receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The health department never did clinics in Prince Edward County with the J & J vaccine,” Puckett said. “So that was one of the reasons that we also felt it was important to offer the clinics. We are offering them all around the county, in the rural areas, in the villages, geographically dispersed, but we also wanted to make sure our citizens had to option of J & J if they so choose.”

Puckett said the county was going to provide everything it can to get vaccinated individuals, but said ultimately, the decision is theirs.

“Our mission has been to help identify the locations for the clinics to make sure that our citizens had the options, and then put out the best information, and ultimately they’re going to have to make up their minds,” she said. “It’s their decision to take the vaccine or not.”

Kate Horton, the project manager for Mobile Health who organizes the teams for the vaccination clinics, said the eight count on Saturday morning was on the low end of the numbers the group has been seeing, but said the unseasonably cold rain and wind may have kept some people away.

Puckett said in addition to the mobile clinics and regular clinics in Farmville, those wanting the vaccine can now walk into Walmart, CVS or Walgreens any day to receive the shot.