This week, Senator Tim Kaine is holding virtual and in-person events across the state to discuss health care amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Kaine, who served as Virginia’s Governor from 2006 to 2010, toured the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) vaccination site at the Salem Civic Center.
While touring the facility, Kaine met with volunteers and staff to learn about the lifesaving work they are doing as well as converse with those who received a vaccine shot. Among those present to help answer the Senator’s questions was Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District Director.
“We rely on data to identify vaccine distribution strategies and understand COVID-19’s impact. We have struggled to meet the demand for information about these decisions and have not been able to personally respond to all of the inquiries and requests we have recently received,” said Dr. Morrow a week before the Senator’s arrival. “I am sorry for this. We are committed to improving the way we communicate about opportunities to schedule a vaccine appointment, about testing events and about other important aspects of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District.”
Just this week alone, hundreds of area residents like Nicole Zimmerman have been vaccinated in the Salem Civic Center. “When you first come in here, you are asked a bunch of questions to make sure that you are healthy,” Zimmerman said. “After waiting in line until it’s your turn, you get a quick shot, and they ask you to wait for like 20 minutes before leaving.”
As a VDH volunteer, Elizabeth Draper’s understanding of the vaccination process has grown considerably in recent weeks. “Many of my friends are nurses and they told me that VDH was looking for volunteers. That is how I got involved. From everything that we’ve seen, our vaccines are really safe. The biggest fear that some people have is the vaccines were not well studied. That simply is not the case.”
Last week, during her weekly column to update the community, Dr. Morrow said, “there’s good news for those seeking vaccination appointments. The VDH has created a new statewide Vaccine Pre-Registration System to provide a unified and comprehensive process for Virginians to pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. If you previously filled out our RCAHD website form indicating your interest in the vaccine, your data was automatically imported into the new system and you do not need to pre-register again.”
After touring the Salem Civic Center vaccination facility, Kaine visited the Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority to learn more about what the organization needs as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic. While working in Congress on another exhaustive COVID-19 relief bill, Kaine has expressed a desire to gather as much information from Virginians as possible. “I am so glad I got to meet so many people here in Salem. The feedback given has been invaluable,” he said.