|PHOTO | EMILY (BA)RNES|
|Steven Reid of Charlotte is inoculated against COVID-19 at a mass vaccination gathering Jan. 29 at Bank of America Stadium. Atrium Health, which sponsored the inoculations, reported 2,400 people received the vaccine on the first day of the two-day event and expect to vaccinate another 8,500 on Jan. 30.|
Terrie Payne and Briunna Stanton were among 2,400 people vaccinated Friday of Atrium Health’s mass vaccination event at Bank of America Stadium.
Vaccinations began prior to the scheduled 8 a.m. start and ran through 1 p.m. Appointments were available for those over age 65 like Payne, as well as front line workers like Stanton via walk-up and drive through. Atrium Health expects to vaccinate 8,500 people Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and intend to vaccinate around 19,000 people by Jan. 31.
People had their temperature screened prior to entering the stadium. Then they proceeded to check-in where they received their registration card, which the will bring back for their second appointment the weekend of Feb. 26-28.
“This is exactly the kind of way Bank of America Stadium should be used—for the benefit of our community,” Tepper Sports and Entertainment president Tom Glick said during a media panel following the first day of vaccinations.
Payne was scheduled to receive her vaccine on Jan. 28, but when she arrived at Atrium Health’s University City site, she was told she was scheduled for April 28.
“I was in shock,” said Payne, who pasted the Jan. 28 confirmation date onto her calendar. “I called my daughter-in-law, who works for Atrium Health.”
Payne’s daughter-in-law helped her get a spot at the mass vaccination.
“I’m really grateful, because if I had to wait until April 28, I don’t know what I would’ve done,” said Payne, who wore two masks to her appointment for better protection against the virus.
Payne, who moved to Charlotte from Durham earlier this month, now lives 10 minutes from her daughter and 20 minutes from her son. Having the vaccine in a new city gives her a sense of peace. She received her vaccine at 2:54 p.m., and was thankful for the afternoon appointment, as friends of hers in Tucson, Arizona have appointments at 2:30 a.m.
Payne traveled nearly every month prior to the pandemic, and she can’t wait to do more.
Following vaccination, Payne said she felt fine, and encourages others to get inoculated as well.
“Just take it, and let’s get on with our lives,” she said. “The longer it takes for all of us to get it, the longer until we can go back to our somewhat normal lives.”
Payne understands the reluctance some feel toward getting the vaccine, particularly in the Black community, given decades of mistrust amid racist practices by the medical community. COVID-19 continues to hit the Black community harder in Mecklenburg County, where they account for 15% of the cases reported but 30% of deaths due to the disease. Inoculation is necessary.
“The reluctance, I understand,” Payne said. “My husband was a neurooncologist who worked in end-of-life palliative care, and 20-30 years ago, he started talking about end-of-life care, hospice care in particular. It was the same reaction: ‘I don’t want that stuff. They’re going to let me die.’ Slowly, carefully, he developed materials. I feel the same way about this. We’re in a pandemic. We have a vaccine. We have to do something to do better and to get better.”
Stanton is a Charlotte native who works as an environmental services technician at Atrium Health Mercy in Elizabeth. Getting the vaccine makes her feel more comfortable going back to work.
“Don’t be scared,” Stanton said. “It’s nothing to be scared about. It’s just like the flu shot. When the flu shot first came out, no one really knew what it would do to you, but now it’s something people take every year. I feel like it’s the same thing with the COVID-19 vaccine.”
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