NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Cheers broke out Tuesday as Yolanda Dumas became the first person in Virginia to get the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, marking a monumental day in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“It feels good, like a normal flu shot,” Dumas said.
Dumas, 39, who works in the emergency room, was thanked by Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) for her work.
“My heart really goes out to our front-line health care workers,” Northam said. “This is not easy work … I cannot thank you enough.”
Health care workers, as well as employees and residents of long-term care facilities, will be the first to receive vaccinations.
Tara Lincoln, a registered nurse, also got the vaccination Tuesday; she says she is happy to be a part of history, although she was nervous at first.
“I talked to a few doctors. I did a lot of research and decided to get the shot for my family,” Lincoln said. “My dad’s high risk and I want my kids back in school and I want life back to normal. I feel like if I can do my part to make that happen, it’s exciting.”
Though Tuesday marked a turning point, Northam emphasized this is just the first part of the process of returning to normalcy.
“We have several months ahead of us where we have to stay vigilant. We know these things work. Until all Virginians have access, we all have to remain vigilant — be a part of the solution,”
Sentara got its shipment of 11,700 doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. The doses will almost cover the 12,500 priority front-line healthcare workers at Sentara. They won’t be mandatory, but health officials said about 85% of workers said they wanted to take the vaccine.
Tim Jennings, Sentara Healthcare’s vice president of pharmacy, says what is unfolding across the country is unprecedented.
“It is completely unprecedented to get a drug that quickly, and is fully remarkable that something has come out this quickly that it was able to be studied and developed,” Jennings said.
Sentara expects it will receive 20,800 additional doses of the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 21. The Moderna vaccine was deemed effective in an announcement from the FDA on Tuesday, and it could be approved by the end of the week. That vaccine doesn’t require the extreme cold temperatures needed to store the Pfizer vaccine, but both are more than 90% effective, health officials say.
Virginia initial allotment of 72,150 doses were distributed Monday and Tuesday, with local health systems Bon Secours and Riverside getting theirs Tuesday.
In total, Virginia health systems expect to receive an estimated 480,000 doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of December, the governor’s office said Monday. Northam was at a Bon Secours hospital in Richmond on Monday to welcome a vaccine delivery.
“These initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are a much-needed symbol of hope for our Commonwealth and our country,” said Northam. “With this remarkable medical achievement, we are beginning to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Yet even in this moment of celebration, we must remember that this is the first step in a months-long process to receive, distribute, and administer the vaccine as it becomes available. I ask everyone to stay vigilant, take care of each other, and continue following the public health guidelines as we work to vaccinate Virginians in a safe, efficient, equitable manner.”
CORRECTION: In the on-air version of this story that aired on WAVY News 10 at 11 and WAVY News 10 at 10 on FOX43 Yolanda Dumas’ position with Sentara was incorrectly stated. WAVY-TV apologizes for the error.