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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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VCU Medical Center begins COVID-19 vaccinations for front-line workers

Historic day in the fight against COVID-19.

Gov. Ralph Northam Gov. Ralph Northam gave remarks before VCU Medical Center's first COVID-19 vaccinations. (Photo: Kevin Morley, University Marketing)

By Leila Ugincius

VCU Medical Center began COVID-19 vaccinations of its first front-line team members Wednesday.

Seven team members volunteered to be the first to receive the new vaccine. They will provide testimonials and regular public check-ins to document how they are doing on their vaccination journey.

“All of these individuals are leaders in their fields, and they stepped up to not only benefit from the vaccine, but to send a message to their teammates, to the university and the commonwealth about the value of vaccination,” said Dr. Art Kellermann, senior vice president for health sciences at VCU and CEO of VCU Health System.

While the new vaccine offers a ray of hope, Virginians must continue their vigilance for the next few months, said Gov. Ralph Northam, who attended the first vaccinations.

“[We] need to continue for the next few months to wear our facial protection, to wash our hands ... We know scientifically that these things work,” he said. “There is an order to how we're going to do this. We've planned for this for several months. We're starting with phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3. Hopefully over the next several months, all Virginians will have access to the vaccination, and we can finally put the pandemic behind us.”

VCU Health is committed to an equitable distribution of the vaccine, beginning with its front-line health care workers.

These are our colleagues who have, at great personal sacrifice throughout this entire lengthy pandemic, courageously and so unselfishly provided incredible care, compassionate care for our patients from across the Commonwealth, and well beyond that,” said Dr. Michael Rao, president of VCU and the VCU Health System.

Audrey R. Roberson, R.N., Ph.D., nurse manager of the Medical Respiratory Intensive Care Unit, became the first person to receive the vaccine at 12:21 p.m.

“Knowing what we've been through and knowing what we've done for the last 10 months here in the state of Virginia and here at VCU Health, having this vaccine and this opportunity was one that I was not going to allow to pass,” she said. “I was doing this for my family and for my team.”

Learn more about Roberson’s story and see her vaccination.

Dr. Robert Winn, director of VCU’s Massey Cancer Center, added: “This day is about the opportunity to take care of one another. I am standing here to take the vaccine, not for myself but for my 93-year-old grandmother and everyone else in Virginia. Today is the day we start recovering our health. “

Other team members who received the vaccination Wednesday were:

  • Ronald Leeper, member of VCU Health’s COVID clean team
  • Dr. Gonzalo Bearman, infectious disease expert at VCU Health and chair of the division of infectious diseases
  • Stacy Coleman, R.N., nurse manager of the transitional care unit, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU Brook Road Campus
  • Dr. Joel Moll, emergency medicine physician and director of the emergency medicine residency program

Dr. Lisa Brath, medical director of both Respiratory Care and the Unique Pathogens Unit at VCU Medical Center, also received the vaccine. Brath routinely takes care of COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory issues.

“Although it may seem an individual person can’t make that much of an impact on something so overwhelming [like COVID-19], we can make a difference,” Brath said. “Like a Japanese poem reminds us, ‘Individually, we are a drop. Together, we are an ocean.’”

To see the first vaccination and hear inspiring remarks from our vaccine recipients, please watch this video:

 

Witness the week's events through this photo collage.