One year ago today: First COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Virginia


Over 13.3 million doses — all just in one year

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — One year ago today, the first coronavirus vaccine was administered to a nurse in Queens, New York. Nurse Sandra Lindsay was the first American to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after treating some of the sickest coronavirus patients in New York City and losing two of her own family members to the virus.

NYC nurse gets 1st COVID-19 vaccine in US | PIX11
Nurse Sandra Lindsay was the first American to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after treating some of the sickest coronavirus patients in New York City. (Photo: PIX11 News)

The same day, the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived at hospitals in Virginia.

Governor Ralph Northam got his first look at the vaccine after it arrived at Bon Secours hospital in Richmond and said the doses were “a much-needed symbol of hope for our Commonwealth and our country.”

The first shots were put into arms in the commonwealth the following day on Dec. 15. Frontline healthcare workers stepped up to the table.

Nurse Practitioner Cassie Lewis, from Bon Secours in Richmond, became the first person at her hospital to get the shot that morning. She said it was a “huge relief” for her and her staff after months of caring for some of the sickest COVID-19 patients.

In late December, the first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine began arriving at the Richmond region health districts. Not too long later in January, the first mass-vaccination site in Virginia was established at the Richmond International Raceway with eligibility phases established by the Virginia Department of Health.

By January 20, people eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1B were able to get their shots at the raceway— public school and public safety employees from the counties of Goochland, Hanover, Henrico and the City of Richmond. Across the region, doctor’s offices and retail pharmacies started vaccinating eligible people who were ready to get the jab.

Photo: Tyler Thrasher/WRIC

In March of 2021, the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) held the first mass vaccination event in the city’s Southside. Then the district’s first wide-scale vaccination event was held at Celebration Church on Midlothian Turnpike on Tuesday, Mar. 18.

And on March 8, the first doses of the one-dose Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine began arriving in Central Virginia.

On April 3, RHHD hit a massive milestone in vaccination efforts after administering their 100,000th vaccine in the mass-vaccination site at Richmond Raceway. The total capacity of the raceway is around 50,000 people and at this point of the year, local health districts had vaccinated enough people to fill the raceway twice.

And on the same day, RHHD hosted its first drive-thru clinic, focusing on those with disabilities and their caretakers.

Henrico County reaches milestone: 100,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered at Richmond  Raceway | 8News
Photo: Tyler Thrasher/WRIC

The Johnson and Johnson vaccine re-entered the spotlight in mid-April 2021 when Virginia paused all J&J vaccinations while investigating reports of rare blood clots.

The J&J vaccine was highly anticipated and was hurt by a series of troubles including manufacturing problems but also included some rare but serious side effects including a blood clot disorder and a neurological reaction called Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Regulators ultimately lifted the recommended pause and decided the shot’s benefits outweighed the risks.

September 27 marked the day Richmond and Henrico Health Districts began offering COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to eligible groups at their clinics. In mid-October, Richmond was ready to administer all three approved booster shots and offered mixing and matching of the vaccines for those eligible for the doses.

As of Dec. 13, 2021:

  • 13,322,842 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • 6,446,923 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine, which is 75.5% of the Virginia population
  • 64.4% of the population of Virginia has been fully vaccinated and over 1.5 million have received the booster dose
Information provided by the Virginia Department of Health

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