covid-19 vaccine

Vaccine Clinic in Manassas Park Works on First-Come, First-Served Basis

The clinic offered easy access for people who would otherwise be shut out or put off by online registration portals

NBC Universal, Inc.

People lined up before dawn at a clinic in Manassas Park, Virginia, for a chance to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The clinic didn’t require appointments — instead using a first-come, first-served system.

The clinic offered easy access for people who would otherwise be shut out or put off by online registration portals.

People began lining up as early as 2:15 a.m. for this first-come, first-served shot. Once tickets were awarded, people were assigned times to line up.

“It’s like I won the lotto,” said Ramona French, a government contractor, after she was one of the thousand people to get the vaccine at the clinic.

The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.

French was able to register on the state vaccine site, but when she tried to update, it crashed. She feared her preregistration was lost.

The doctors who run the clinic set it up to target those who may not have an email address or the ability to register on Virginia’s website.

“So what we’re finding (is that) there are technology limitations on top of having trust concerns, so we really wanted to be able to offer the same level of access for this vaccine for those who don’t have the same ability to navigate (the) system,” said Dr. Rebecca Sutter, one of the clinic’s organizers.

They hoped to draw grocery, construction and manufacturing workers in group 1B.

“I was lucky enough to find out yesterday they were having something here and essential workers in 1B could come, so that’s why I’m here,” French said.

Jack Smith, a deli clerk at Giant, said he didn’t know about registering on the state website but heard about the clinic’s system and realized he needed a shot.

“It concerns me a bit because I deal with a lot of people daily — probably a hundred a day. I’m around a lot of people,” Smith said.

The clinic organizers also hope the community-oriented approach will help build trust with those who are hesitant about the vaccine.

“I’m okay to be the first one to see what the side effect are and … allow my wife and (the) rest of (my) family to make informed decision based on my decision,” said Sean Hicks, a manufacturing worker.

Mindy Diepenbrock, a pediatric occupational therapist, was worried about her spot in the state database, and decided to go to the clinic instead.

“I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting and nothing, and so I need to get on with it,” Diepenbrock said. “I’d like to be in person with my little kiddos.”

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