vaccine clinic sign

Elliot said clinic staff members encouraged her to tell others about the opportunity to get vaccinated in Danville.

As COVID-19 vaccine rollouts progress throughout Virginia, many students have begun to search for ways to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

As of April 2, the Central Shenandoah Health District has moved into Phase 1C of the vaccine rollout process. Prior to this, the health district had been in Phase 1B since Jan. 18. Phase 1B included frontline essential workers, people between the ages of 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions, adults 65 and older and those who live in homeless shelters, migrant camps or correctional facilities. Phase 1C allows essential workers not included in phase 1B to be vaccinated. 

For the majority of students, this means they didn’t qualify to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Harrisonburg until recently. 

However, some health districts in the state moved to 1C earlier than the Central Shenandoah Health District. 

In the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District, the switch to Phase 1C on March 16 led to an influx of out-of-towners attending a Community Vaccination Clinic in the city of Danville, believing that the clinic was accepting walk-ins due to a surplus of doses.

Jane Clare Elliot, a freshman marketing major, was one of the many college students vaccinated in Danville by walk-in.

“I heard about the Danville vaccine clinic through many club and class group chats; everyone was circling the word around,” Elliot said. “I also heard about it because I am from southern Virginia.”

Elliot said she was encouraged by clinic staff members to inform others about the clinic. 

“They told us to share the news of the clinic with everyone we knew,” Elliot said. “Everyone we talked to was so excited to see students getting vaccinated.”

However, in a joint press release March 24, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management urged people not to travel to other parts of the state to attend Community Vaccine Clinics.

“Today, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the VDH announced that only those individuals who receive an appointment or invitation to attend a Community Vaccination Center event will be permitted inside to be vaccinated,” the statement from the VDH said. “No walk-ins will be accepted at this time.”

Cathryn Molloy, a writing, rhetoric and technical communication professor, said students should take a different approach in seeking out COVID-19 vaccines. She said one of her students received her vaccine by being put on a waitlist for instances in which someone didn’t show up to their appointment or the vaccine would otherwise be wasted.

“I think figuring out how to get yourself on those waiting lists for leftover doses is a great tactic,” said Molloy. “The other thing to do is wait until the vaccine is more widely available and continue to take the precautions that have been recommended all along.”

Contact Gia Yoder at yodergg@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.