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Mass vaccine clinic kicks off at Winston-Salem Fairgrounds

More than 8,000 people will be getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Forsyth County Public Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health, and Novant Health are teaming up to get 8,400 people vaccinated against COVID-19 this weekend. 

A mass vaccination clinic will be held for healthcare workers, seniors, and frontline essential workers March 12-14 at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. Those scheduled will be getting the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. 

Forsyth County Health Director Joshua Swift said they have a concrete system down when they welcome those with appointments into the facility. 

Those with scheduled appointments will get a barcode sent to them via email. That barcode will have to be scanned upon entry. Swift said each person will then report to a pod where they will sit for the entire visit.

That's where they will be vaccinated and wait the 15 minute period to make sure there are no immediate reactions. 

The first appointments are Friday afternoon at 3 o'clock. Swift said the vaccination site plans to get one thousand people vaccinated between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Friday and more than 3,000 people on each day over the weekend. 

Wake Forest Baptist Health Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Christopher Ohl said at a news conference Friday morning that it's an exciting time to be with partners in the community. 

"I've never been more optimistic during our pandemic that we really are in the throws of the ends of the pandemic and that's because of vaccines," said Ohl. 

Ohl said over the last year doctors and scientists have taken the ongoing vaccine development strategies they've used for years and moved them into COVID-19 vaccinations.

"Now we have three highly effective and very safe vaccines that we can use for COVID," he said. 

Ohl said people should not be worried about which vaccine they are getting. "Personally I would get any one of them. The best vaccine that you can get is the one vaccine that you can get the quickest," said Ohl. 

Novant Health Executive Vice President Dr. Pam Oliver says the partnership helped all the providers work together to make sure the community is taken care of as a whole.

"Early on we identified that that was absolutely the best strategy because our ability to get out in the community was going to be better if we shared our plans and figure out where we may have had overlap and where we were missing," said Oliver. 

The vaccination site is by appointment only and runs from Friday to Sunday.

The hospital systems and health department held a joint press conference.