The Health Wagon: More than 500 people on waiting list for COVID-19 vaccine as clinic awaits first dose

Local Coronavirus Coverage

WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL)- As states continue to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine in different phases, one Southwest Virginia clinic said it has yet to receive a single dose of the vaccine to distribute.

The state of Virginia is distributing the vaccine by population.

Dr. Teresa Tyson, CEO and President of The Health Wagon, said she feels the state is forgetting those who are considered to be part of the vulnerable population and live in rural areas.

She says there is a wait list with more than 500 people hoping to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“I wanted to be a voice for the people here because we thought we needed to be a priority population. I mean, the vaccine needs to go here,” Tyson said.

Health leaders in the Commonwealth are pushing to fast-track the response for vaccine requests.

While counties like Alexandria, Arlington, Cumberland Plateau and Fairfax are already past the 1A phase, Dr. Teresa Tyson continues to emphasize that The Health Wagon has not received a single vial, and wants it to be known that it is critical that counties in Southwest Virginia sit at the table when it comes to health care.

The Health Wagon CEO and president, Dr. Teresa Tyson speaks with Pheben Kassahun about the lack of COVID-19 vaccines issued to the free clinic.

“Often, you have some of the sickest individuals in the state, in rural areas,” Dr. Tyson said. “We are the medical home to over 5,600 individuals. We have close to 24,000 patient encounters last year.”

State health officials like Dr. Danny Avula said various parts of Southwest Virginia are actually doing better than other parts of the state when it comes to vaccination rates.

“Places like Wise County have had 14,000 per hundred (inaudible) so that’s 14% of the population that has received a vaccine to that point. There are places in other parts of Virginia that are down at 2% and 3%,” Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula said.

Dr. Avula said health officials are trying to find other ways to increase vaccine supply by activating part II of the federal pharmacy partnership.

“There are so many people who are eligible and who want to be vaccinated and just can’t be. We need to recognize that that is a result of a really limited supply from the federal government. As soon as that opens up, we’ll make sure that every part of Virginia gets more,” Dr. Avula said.

However, Dr. Tyson fears enough isn’t being done to protect her patients.

“When you’re a health care provider like I am, and you’re seeing people die then time is of the essence. Every day that we go without, getting this vaccine for our people here is a day that people- they die,” Dr. Tyson said.

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