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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Charlotte's First Mass COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Opens At Charlotte Motor Speedway

Kevin McCarthy
Atrium Health

The Charlotte area's first mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic opened to the public Friday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the first of several mass clinics planned for the city in the coming weeks.

The clinic was organized through a partnership between Atrium Health, Tepper Sports and Entertainment, Honeywell, Charlotte Motor Speedway, and local and state health officials.

More than 16,000 people had signed up for drive-through vaccine appointments at the speedway through Sunday, when the event will conclude. Organizers said all available time slots had been filled before they had even opened the gates Friday.

Organizers say those who have appointments are asked to stay in their cars as they arrive at the speedway, then drive along the racetrack and pit road before entering one of 12 vaccination lanes in the garage area. The entire vaccination process will happen without patients leaving their vehicles.

The clinic is staffed by hundreds of Atrium Health employees, including physicians and advanced practice providers, along with additional volunteers from Honeywell and the Cabarrus Health Alliance, according to a news release.

Every patient at the speedway this weekend will be receiving their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, officials said. In three weeks, the speedway will again transform into a vaccination clinic as patients return to receive their second dose.

The vaccine clinic at the speedway will be the first of several planned for the Charlotte area in the coming weeks. The same organizers are planning another, larger mass vaccination event at Bank of America Stadium in uptown Charlotte next weekend.

Many details are still being worked out, including where and when residents can sign up for appointments. Anyone above the age of 65 will be eligible to sign up.

Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, Dr. Scott Rissmiller of Atrium Health said they hoped to administer between 20,000 and 30,000 vaccine doses at next weekend's event at Bank of America Stadium.

Elsewhere in the region Friday, a mass vaccination site also opened up in Gaston County at the Gastonia Farmers Market. Organizers said they hoped to administer 1,200 vaccine doses by the end of the day.

A new vaccine distribution site also opened up in Rock Hill inside the Galleria Mall. As reported by theRock Hill Herald, the clinic will operate Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will follow South Carolina's guidelines for phased eligibility.

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Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal