Newport News Now

My fellow Newport News residents: It is hard to believe that our city and world have been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic for almost a year. We’ve learned a great deal about ourselves and our city during this time. I’ve watched city employees and residents come together while staying apart and have been inspired and humbled by how you have uplifted one another in deed and word. Thank you for the sacrifices you’ve made to keep our community safe. I know there is a great deal of frustration in the community about the COVID vaccine. I’ve heard from many of you who want a vaccine now and are upset and disappointed that you can’t get one. I understand and, like you, am discouraged that more of our residents aren’t vaccinated.  I am the President of the African American Mayors Association and had the unique opportunity to lead a meeting recently between Vice President Kamala Harris, White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients, and the Chair of the Biden-Harris COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. My fellow mayors and I shared the issues our cities are facing related to the coronavirus and the vaccine distribution. During this call, I stated that we began the new year with hope and optimism thanks to the COVID vaccine, but have been challenged recently due to the slow speed at which vaccines are being administered in many communities. I also stressed that we must ensure that the vaccine is distributed fairly and equitably. Vice President Harris and our other esteemed guests stated that they are committed to getting more vaccines to communities as quickly as possible.  It is going to take time, but I was reassured during that call that the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to increasing the number of vaccines provided to states. Everyone who would like a vaccine will get one, but I ask you to remain patient. I know this is hard to do, especially when you see and hear of others getting the vaccine. I assure you that the city and our partners are working as hard as possible to vaccinate residents. Our efforts are hampered by a lack of vaccines, but we are establishing procedures so that, when vaccines are available, we can distribute them quickly. Please make sure you are in the Virginia Department of Health’s pre-registration system so that you are on the list to get a vaccine. Visit www.vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA to pre-register or for more information.      
While there are thousands on the waiting list for the vaccine, many others are hesitant to get the shot. I understand your apprehension and fears. I am a practicing dentist, so I recently received my vaccine. I didn’t experience many side effects and am relieved to have this extra protection from the coronavirus. For those of you who are unsure about the vaccine, I encourage you to visit the Virginia Department of Health website for information on its safety and efficacy.  Even after a large percent of the population is vaccinated, life isn’t going to immediately return to normal. We must continue to be patient, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and follow social distancing guidelines. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at city events in the future, but it will take some time to get there.  In the meantime, please be kind to one another. I will continue to keep you updated as the Commonwealth’s vaccination efforts move forward.  Sincerely,Mayor McKinley L. Price, DDS