The vaccine clinic at the Fashion Square Mall is inaccessible to many seniors and people with disabilities.
On April 2, I showed up 20 minutes before my appointment but waited two hours to get my shot. There was nowhere to sit down while in line, leaving people either to stand for an extended period of time or to sit on the floor — both impossibilities for many with physical disabilities.
Worse, there was no warning ahead of time of the prolonged wait or lack of seating, meaning that people with physical impairments did not know to come prepared with their own seating.
For some, just a two-hour outing in itself is not feasible, let alone two hours of standing.
The setup of the clinic creates physical barriers that prevent some of the most vulnerable from being vaccinated.
Moreover, I couldn’t help but feel it would be better not to have so many people at a time in the same indoor space. At least a hundred people were standing in a line that started on the sidewalk outside and snaked around the entire store. There was masking and distancing, but why expose people — many of whom have underlying conditions — at all to an unnecessary risk? Was the long wait on that afternoon an exception or the norm?
I thank and applaud all the hardworking people who serve our community in the vaccine clinic, who are doing their best in a difficult time. They are heroes.
But surely Blue Ridge Health District can find a better way to administer the vaccines. Why not use the mall parking lot and set up a drive-through, as other communities have? This eliminates both the need for vaccine recipients to stand for prolonged periods and the needless risk of being in the same room with dozens of people.
Only the young and healthy can stand for two hours, yet the old and sick are vaccine priority groups. Vaccination is how we will end the pandemic. In order to get the most people possible vaccinated, the process must be streamlined and accessible to all.