Charlotte Motor Speedway opens gates to combat COVID-19 with vaccination clinic

CONCORD, N.C. — Mass vaccination clinics are being held across the Charlotte area all weekend long, and each has the potential to vaccinate thousands of people.

As more people continue to become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, a public-private partnership will host the first of several mass vaccination events in the community beginning Friday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Channel 9 was there as cars began arriving at the speedway before dawn on Friday, and within a couple of hours, the line snaked outward from the entrance.

Maria Nyce brought her mother up for the shot.

“A very big relief. She’s 80 so it’s very important,” she said.

From Friday until Sunday at the speedway, Atrium Health will be administering over 16,000 vaccinations to people who are at least 65 years old. Officials said appointments for the weekend event are completely booked.

The clinic will run from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. each of the three days.

Eyewitness News reporter Mark Becker did learn on Friday that several people had reactions and were taken to a local hospital for observation. Officials said it’s expected and they were ready for it.

The event will be the first of two announced mass vaccination sites at professional sports venues in the region.

Bank of America Stadium is planning to host a similar mass vaccination event in the near future.

“The Speedway will literally become victory lane for thousands of North Carolinians this weekend,” said Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer, Speedway Motorsports. “This vaccination clinic is a crucial pit stop in the race to beat the pandemic. We’re modeling our efforts off the success we had last year partnering with Atrium Health to create a drive-up testing site. People will actually drive on the racetrack and pit road before entering one of 12 vaccination lanes in the garage area. The entire process will take place without people leaving their cars.”

Last week, Honeywell, Atrium Health, Tepper Sports & Entertainment and the Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the public-private initiative with a bold plan of distributing 1 million doses of the vaccine by July 4.

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With support from Gov. Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and local governments, these organizations are working together to administer vaccinations, provide logistics and operations support, and offer venues for an efficient and safe initiative.

“The ability to launch the state’s largest vaccination event so rapidly is a testament to the power of partnership,” said Eugene A. Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “Our goal, simply stated, is to get as many shots in arms as quickly as we can, to save the lives of North Carolinians. And we thank Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen for their support of our partnership with Honeywell, Tepper Sports & Entertainment and Charlotte Motor Speedway as we take a critical step forward in defeating this virus and returning life to some semblance of normal.”

Appointments for all Atrium Health vaccination locations and events can be scheduled on its MyAtriumHealth platform on the health system’s website or via its app. Those who don’t have a MyAtriumHealth account can create one or schedule a vaccination appointment by phone, if assistance is needed. There are no out-of-pocket costs for patients to receive the vaccine. Those receiving their initial dose of vaccine this weekend will be asked to schedule their second dose three weeks from now. Those will also be administered at the speedway.

Anyone who already has an appointment is asked to arrive at their designated time (and not too early) to keep traffic flow smooth.

Atrium Health’s vaccination plans for the public, including frequently asked questions and scheduling vaccine, can be found at AtriumHealth.org/COVID19Vaccine.