PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — With a sense of pride and relief health care providers in the Riverside Health System — nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists food service workers, and anyone who has direct contact with the infected or the possibly infected — got that shot in the arm Wednesday at one of two undisclosed locations in the Riverside system.
Pharmacy officer Cynthia Williams watched Tuesday as crews gingerly delivered the Pfizer vaccine and supervised crews as they stored the vaccine in freezers that dip to negative 100 degrees.
“We are in the process of getting the vaccine thawed and to our clinics and we will begin vaccinating in two of our regions today, and we will begin vaccinating in all five of our geographic regions effective tomorrow,” Williams said.
For safety reasons, the locations of where the precious Pfizer cargo will be transferred across the Riverside Health System will not be disclosed to the public. The health system covers five hospitals, 10 nursing homes, and other facilities from Hampton to the Northern Neck, the Eastern Shore, and more.
Riverside has watched the vaccination process unfold in other regions and is taking notes to learn more about best practices that are being established across the nation as regions begin to inoculate millions of Americans.
Preparations have also included so-called dress rehearsals for those who will administer the vaccines at Riverside facilities.
“So we’ve done not only dress rehearsals, we’ve done a very extensive training curriculum, and that includes things that have been provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.”
Phase 1A includes frontline team members associated with the Riverside Health System but in a recent survey, only 60% said they would get the vaccine. Riverside officials say the Virginia Department of Health will determine when employees at major organizations such as Newport News Shipbuilding will receive vaccinations.
Because of the size of the workforce and the number of workers who could have pre-existing medical conditions, Riverside officials say the state of Virginia will coordinate with Riverside in developing inoculation plans for the community.
Dr. Michael Dacey, the president and chief operating officer of Riverside Health, says this will likely include on-site vaccinations.
“Ultimately, it’s a local plan based on where the vaccinations are occurring. We hope to have them as close as possible to where people work,” said Dacey.
You are watching medical history unfold in real-time. A Riverside team member Tuesday sent colleagues a moving email that captures this moment in history, Williams shared the key points in the heartfelt message.
“Just talking about the hope that this vaccine brings and it is the season to be thankful. I think that there are a lot of health care workers to have the vaccine to not only help us, but to protect the community at large,” said Williams.