The Norfolk Medical Reserve Corps in Norfolk, Virginia began their COVID-19 response in March of 2020 with call center operations. They went on to provide support in a variety of capacities including testing, entry control, PPE fit testing, and vaccination. Among their community partnerships, the unit worked with Norfolk Public Schools to help with contact tracing and establishment of a mitigation team and return to school protocols.
In November of 2021, the unit spent a week in their local elementary schools providing a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to those ages 5 to 11. Clinics ran in in five to eight schools each day. The unit returned for a week in mid-December to provide a second dose of the vaccine.
“We’re working to get as many kids vaccinated before winter break as we can,” said Norfolk MRC Program Coordinator Summer Atseye, MSCH.
Each clinic was staffed by six MRC volunteers (two vaccinators and four general support) and provided between 25 and 220 vaccines a day. Volunteers worked in two shifts: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM and 12:45-3:45 PM. General support volunteers assisted with registration, scribing, vaccine monitoring, logistics, and helping to ease fears. The clinicians received special training prior to the clinics to assist them in providing vaccination to children in this age range. A public health immunization nurse was among the health department staff present at each site. Also on hand was an EMT and the school nurse. The health department had funding to provide a goody bag to each child. Those receiving their first dose at a December clinic were also provided with a list of local places where they could receive a second dose.
The unit worked very closely with the school system to ensure each clinic was a success. Clinic organizers talked with each school’s point of contact and custodial staff in advance. The team also provided a visual of how they’d like the site to be set up. Spaces ranged from a gymnasium to a hallway closet, so the team needed to be “open minded and flexible.”
Prior to each clinic Atseye sent volunteers a pre-deployment email with instructions including which school entrance to use and where to park. She also shared a description of roles and guidelines with each volunteer.
“It was such a worthwhile experience,” said Atseye.