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Largest Charlotte-area venues transforming into vaccine clinics this weekend

Both the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Motor Speedway will be offering COVID-19 vaccines to people with appointments.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This weekend, two of the largest venues in the area have been transformed into vaccination clinics, getting the COVID-19 vaccine out to nearly 20,000 people.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway is hosting a second dose clinic for the 16,000 people who got the shot through Atrium Health three weeks ago.

And Novant Health will hold a mass clinic aimed at serving the historically underserved communities and CMS staff 65 and older. It will be held at the Spectrum Center.

The Hornets had a game on Friday night, but work was underway at the Spectrum Center. It looks different than any game or concert but is a similar model to how the concourse was staged for early voting for the 2020 election.

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“Every single person we vaccinate is a win. It’s a win for that individual, it’s a win for their family and it’s a win for our broader community,” Jesse Cureton with Novant Health said. 

"I couldn't believe it, we didn't have to wait any time," Richard Benson said.

Benson says the event at The Spectrum Center allowed him to get his shot earlier than expected, but what made it even more special, was that he got the vaccine with his 92-year-old mother, Mary.

"She was just happy to get it, until we found out about this today we did not think we would get the vaccination until April the 15th," Benson said.

The Spectrum Center is easily accessible. It’s close to a light rail stop and the transit center. CATS is providing free bus service there on Saturday and Ally Bank is sponsoring free parking for people with appointments.

This makes the vaccine accessible to historically underserved communities who have been disproportionately impacted by the virus and are not getting the vaccine as quickly.

“I don’t have to tell you about the gap between the majority communities and African American and brown communities, it’s huge. Our thought is this creates an opportunity,” Cureton said. 

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According to Novant Health, 2,240 shots went into arms on Saturday. 

“We at the Hornets have always looked at the Spectrum Center as a community asset,” Fred Whitfield with Hornets Sports & Entertainment said. "This is about saving lives and trying to sustain people’s lives."

Novant Health also partnered with CMS to book appointments for school staff 65 and older.

“Teachers are excited to have an opportunity to have access to the vaccine. certainly, as you've heard from experts locally and across the country, the vaccine is important,” Superintendent Earnest Winston said. "This pandemic is really a community challenge and I believe the more of our community members who get vaccinated, the more immunity we begin to build here and that will be big.”

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On Feb. 24, all school and childcare workers will become eligible to get vaccinated with Group 3, regardless of their age.

And up I-85 North at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, 16,000 people were scheduled to get their second dose of the vaccine over the weekend. Atrium Health officials stressing the event is happening rain or shine because getting the second dose is vital for full protection.

Those with appointments for Novant Health’s clinic at the Spectrum Center are asked not to arrive more than 10 minutes early. The second dose clinic will be held on March 5.

Have a relative or friend in another state and want to know when they can get vaccinated? Visit NBC News' Plan Your Vaccine site to find out about each state's vaccine rollout plan.

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