For the latest COVID-19 information, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19 or Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for pediatrics. For vaccine details, visit vcuhealth.org/covidvaccine.


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Taking ownership of our well-being — Audrey Roberson urges people to get the vaccine

Audrey Roberson was VCU Health’s first COVID-19 vaccine recipient.

Audrey Roberson Audrey Roberson (Photo: Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

As a Black woman in America, Audrey R. Roberson, R.N., Ph.D., knows firsthand the distrust many Black Americans have towards the medical establishment. Reflecting on the country’s history of mistreating African Americans or neglecting their health care needs, Roberson, a respiratory nurse manager at VCU Health, understands their hesitation when it comes to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I really, truly understand people's apprehension behind that,” she said. “And I think that Virginia and our country, we have a little more work to do when it comes to building that trust in our community with all people.”

But having worked with COVID-19 patients for 10 months, and having seen the devastation it brings upon the victims and their loved ones, Roberson had no qualms about being first in line to get the vaccine.

“We're seeing patients that are young, all the way up to the older patient population. So this has no age limitation. This has no racial limitation, ethnic limitations, sexual orientation. It has no barriers. It will affect everyone . . .  So I think we as a people, be it African Americans, we have to at some point also take some ownership for our well-being and that of our family. And we have to also do our due diligence with trying to identify the best course of action in order to keep ourselves safe.

“I don't think this is solely the responsibility of the Commonwealth or the nation," she continued. "They're doing their part to bring forward an opportunity here to the United States and to Virginia to be able to protect ourselves. We need to equally be trusting and also reach out to be able to take advantage of that opportunity.”



Side effects minimal

At the time of this interview, Roberson had only had her first dose of the vaccine and was awaiting her second. Her only side effect was a sore arm, she said, something she experiences any time she gets a vaccine — just like the flu shot.

“I feel great,” she said. “I didn’t take anything for it. I came to work the next day.”

A consistent message

Since getting the vaccine, Roberson has had numerous people at her church approach her with questions.

“I've been encouraging people to pay attention to the news when the vaccine becomes available for the public, to take a look at the opportunity to get this done,” she said. ““We as a community have to come together and take this opportunity to take care of ourselves. And we will also be taking care of our loved ones and others.

“My message was really consistent with, ‘I can be the first, but I just cannot be the last.”

To get your vaccine

For information on when you’re eligible to get the vaccine or how to register, please see the Virginia Department of Health. For information on VCU Health’s vaccine distribution plan, please see our vaccine rollout page.  For a variety of news and information on the vaccine, please visit our COVID-19 vaccine page or our COVID-19 news center.