Alexandria, VA

There’s a line nowadays that snakes around the corner from the old Pet Valu store at 3819 Mount Vernon Avenue in Arlandria. The store has been repurposed as a vaccine site for Neighborhood Health, which has given away more than 16,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine to low income and mostly minority residents.

“We have provided 16,000 vaccines between all the sites, and 85% of them have been to people of color,” Neighborhood Health Executive Director Dr. Basim Khan told ALXnow. “We’ve ramped it up over time since we started. So at this point we’re at 5,000 vaccines a week.”

There are three Neighborhood Health vaccine sites in the city, at Alfred Street Baptist Church, Virginia Theological Seminary and on Mount Vernon Avenue. There are also sites near Seven Corners, at Macedonia Baptist Church in south Arlington and along Route 1 in Fairfax County.

“With minorities being vaccinated at much lower rates than white residents, we set up a program to address this issue to increase equity in the vaccine rollout,” Khan said. “Our focus is with the underserved communities that we’re trying to reach with the goal of preserving access for our own low income patients, because as you know our patients are predominantly low income, uninsured immigrant people of color.”

The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership was able to work with the landlord of the Arlandria storefront to provide the space to Neighborhood Health rent-free. Vaccines are provided by the city of Alexandria and Fairfax County, as well as the federal government, since the nonprofit is a federally qualified health center.

“Initially, our goal was to do 2,000 vaccines per week,” Khan said. “It seemed like a monumental task, but as you see we’re at 5,000 a week now, because obviously the demand is there. There is no waiting list and we will continue until the job is done.”

Courtesy photo/Mark Haney

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