‘I did it for my family’: VCU Health gives first doses of COVID-19 vaccine to front-line workers


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered at the VCU Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon. Similar to what Virginians saw on Tuesday at Bon Secours in Richmond and Sentara Hospital in Norfolk, VCU health care workers rolled up their sleeves to receive the first doses of the vaccine.

All eyes were on Audrey Roberson, who said she rolled up her sleeve with honor. The ICU nurse, an employee with VCU for the past thirty-one years, was one of the first to treat a COVID positive patient at VCU Health and was the first person to receive a dose of the vaccine at the medical facility.

Fellow doctors, nurses, VCU Staff and Governor Ralph Northam cheered aloud as the needle was pulled out of Roberson’s arm.

“It was a relief to see the vial on the table,” exclaimed Roberson. “It’s really real, not just on the news, it’s here!”

After her bandage was placed on her arm, Roberson threw her hands up in relief and blew her arm a kiss. She says this is the moment front-line health care worker have been waiting for.

“I did it for my family,” Roberson said. “This is all about my family at home and family here.”
Roberson and six other at-risk employees were introduced and vaccinated at various VCU Health clinics on Wednesday, restoring hope after a dark ten months.

“It’s been a long 10 months and we are so glad that this relief has come,” Roberson shared. “I’m just happy and proud and exhilarated.”

VCU President Michael Rao gave brief remarks about the resiliency of VCU health care workers before introducing Governor Ralph Northam who had a message for front-line staff.

“For putting your health at risk, for putting your family and loved ones health at risk–on behalf of Virginia, I just want to sincerely say thank you,” Northam stated. “While this is a light of hope at the end of a long tunnel, I want to remind Virginians that we need to be vigilant.”

VCU Health received nearly 4,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, which is being stored in special deep freezers at -80 degrees Celsius. Right now, the medical facility is only offering the vaccine to interested front-line workers, so they can continue treating patients.

Those who were vaccinated on Wednesday are expected to receive their second dose of the vaccine in twenty-one days, according to VCU Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr.David Lanning. He goes on to say the second dose of the Moderna vaccine is administered in twenty eight days.

Roberson says overall she is thrilled to receive the vaccine and is looking forward to seeing her family, especially her mother, who is a breast cancer survivor. Roberson jokingly says she hasn’t seen her mom in months and she will put a bow on herself for Christmas and be her present.

Despite the laughs, Roberson has a vital message to share with her community regarding health care working continuing the fight and skepticism regarding the vaccine.

“We are here and we will still be here, but we are stronger,” said Roberson. “I am a scientist. I do trust the work that has done by Pfizer. I do trust that our experts have done due diligence not just at the state level, but at the national level as well. What I would like the Commonwealth to do is trust us.”

VCU Health says the goal is to slowly start phasing-in other employees once more doses are made available. Dr. Lanning tells 8News, VCU Health is expecting to get 3,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine next week and more Pfizer shipments in the coming weeks.

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