Durham roller rink transformed into vaccine clinic aims to vaccinate 1,000 people per day

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Vaccine eligibility opens up to everyone 16 and older in North Carolina on Wednesday and Duke Health System is getting prepared for an influx of people interested in the COVID vaccine.

The hospital teamed up with the city and county of Durham to open up a new vaccination site at Wheels Fun Park on Hoover Road.

“It’s rather nostalgic when you walk in for the first time,” said Mitch Babb, Duke Regional Hospital’s Chief Operating Officer.

The former skate park has been in the Durham community for 40 years. It brought back memories for vaccine patients who stopped by the skating rink, turned clinic on Tuesday afternoon. “I had my 12th birthday party here,” recalled Coy’a Durham.

The 32-year-old is a lifelong Durham resident. He stopped by the new clinic to get his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“I want to be safe, you know what I’m saying,” Durham chuckled while waiting during his 15 minute observation period.

“I’m trying my best to get back to normal things and normal things are not walking around with a mask on. If you got a chance to get the Corona shot go ahead and get the vaccine,” Durham continued.

Organizers said the goal is to vaccinate 1,000 people a day. It will double the number of shots administered at its old vaccine locations at Southern High School.

Durham Parks and Recreation Director Wade Walcutt said they also wanted to make this location easier for people to get to for the vaccine. “All of us have heard, we would like to get the vaccine. Is there any way we can get easier access to these facilities?”

So the city looked to a building they purchased a few months ago. “It wasn’t being used so why not be creative , innovative and provide a fun space on where you can be vaccinated,” Walcutt continued.

The location opened on Tuesday, one day ahead of the state opening vaccine appointments to Group 5, anyone 16 and older.

“We feel very well positioned to handle opening and transitioning up to Group 5,” said Babb.

He said the biggest challenge is vaccine allocation. “As long as we got the allocation, we got the space, facility, and a great workforce in order to meet the demand that’s coming forth.”

The clinic will be open Monday through Friday. Each week 1,000 vaccines will be set aside specifically for the LatinX community.

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