BLACKSBURG, Va. — In a rural Virginia county, Virginia Cooperative Extension adapted its community engagement efforts to provide a new resource: staffing Madison County’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic and spearheading vaccination outreach programs.
Extension’s efforts include scheduling 500 people – the maximum allowed in the space due to social distancing requirements – for the weekly Wednesday clinic in the county. To get that number of people in the clinic that day requires 1,000 calls in the five days preceding the clinic, with calls to schedule both the first and second doses of the vaccine, depending on which vaccine is used.
Brad Jarvis, a Madison County Extension agent, and the other county Extension agents took on that role to help the people they serve on a daily basis.
“Our involvement is to make sure that everyone, regardless of if they have the internet or other communication devices, has access to the COVID-19 vaccines once eligible,” Jarvis said. “This is part of our public service commitment to Madison County, and is an aspect of the broader health and wellness effort on which Extension is focused.”
Virginia Cooperative Extension serves the commonwealth and addresses challenges by providing convenient and powerful resources in the communities Virginians call home. The efforts to help inoculate against COVID-19 is a yet another way to provide service to the community.
To help with the vaccination efforts, the county’s board of supervisors gave additional funding to help round out Extension’s staffing, which led to the hiring of six interns to run the hotline and registration. Extension works with the statewide COVID-19 preregistration system and merges it with other eligible people in the county who may not have been able to use the statewide system, ensuring the vaccine has a wide reach.
Even with appointments scheduled, no-shows still happen, and the Extension team has just a few hours to get eligible people to the clinic to distribute the vaccine before the clinic closes.
Extension works in concert with the Madison County School System nurses and the Culpeper Hospital nurses, who give the vaccines at the clinic, and Madison County Emergency Services, who assists with the traffic in and out of the clinic site.
The Madison County Extension Office also has a vaccination outreach program designed to reach underserved communities in the county.
To register for the Madison County COVID-19 vaccination clinic, call 540-948-7532.
–Virginia Cooperative Extension