Organizers of COVID-19 testing, vaccination sites adapt to potential severe weather

Vaccinations continue despite weather

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Severe weather across Mecklenburg County threatened to close COVID-19 vaccine clinics Thursday.

According to the health department, one outdoor community vaccine event was postponed until next week. But the new vaccine site at StarMed on Tuckaseegee Road chose to adapt to stay open, honoring all of the appointments.

StarMed is one of several new registered vaccinators in Mecklenburg County.

The healthcare group shut down COVID testing sites across the area because of the weather, but kept the one open at their west Charlotte location.

“Rain or shine, we’re always open here,” StarMed CEO Mike Estramonte told WBTV.

Estramonte says Thursday is the day everyone at StarMed has waited for.

“We partner with the health department out at Bojangles, but our Tuckaseegee site now has direct allocation as well and we have vaccine appointments today through Monday,” he said.

Mecklenburg County health leaders are hopeful to see more of this.

“Our goal is as vaccine comes into the county, to get it out as quickly and equitably as possible,” Medical Director Dr. Meg Sullivan said. “We know very initially the vaccine was largely coming to the health department and the two hospital systems, and I think we’re fortunate that we have seen a significant number of enrolled vaccine providers around the county.”

Instead of drive-thru vaccines, StarMed moved vaccinations indoors.

“We had to adapt obviously,” Estramonte said. “Rescheduling our regular patients inside the clinic, turning our 12 exam rooms into vaccination rooms, our lobby turning into a post-vaccination area.”

Zenia Wimberly did not mind.

“It was quick, it was easy, it was a lot quicker than I thought it would be,” Wimberly said after getting her first dose.

Soancera Luqmaan says she was in and out in 15 minutes, with a sense of protection and pride.

“To be an example to my son and my community,” Luqmaan said. “When it was my turn I said I may not be first, but I will get in line. I was fortunate enough to get an appointment, so here I am! Round one done.”

StarMed plans to open an additional 1,000 appointments for Sunday and Monday.

If the weather is better, they will go back to the original plan of a drive-thru.

To sign up for appointments, click here.

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