Coronavirus vaccines arrive at hospitals across Southwest, Central Virginia

Centra, Sovah and Carilion all received their first shipments on Tuesday

ROANOKE, Va. – The coronavirus vaccine has officially made it to some hospitals in Southwest Virginia.

“Vaccines will frankly be a large part of how we get through this pandemic,” said Dr. Christopher Lewis, vice president of medical affairs at Centra Health.

Centra, SOVAH and Carilion all received their first shipments Tuesday.

Nearly 3,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are now stored in ultra-cold freezers at Lynchburg General Hospital, ready to be administered.

“This is a more complicated vaccine to give and we need to make sure that we do it right. The last thing you want to do is lose any of these doses,” explained Lewis.

The first shots are expected to start Wednesday at Centra, Carilion and LewisGale, prioritizing health care workers in closest contact with COVID-19 patients.

“It’s not enough to vaccinate all our caregivers. It’s a decent start,” Lewis said. “We need to keep our workforce healthy and working so that we can continue to care for the community.

“We are very hopeful that we will get sufficient doses during the first shipment to cover our entire priority group 1A. We think that’s going to be the case. We won’t know until we get the actual shipment in hand,” said Carilion Clinic Chair of Medicine Dr. Paul Skolnik.

The health department said that by the end of the month, Virginia should have enough doses to reach all health care workers and long-term care facility residents who make up the first priority group.

“This vaccine is essential for people to get to help protect themselves and also everyone else,” Skolnik said.

“Vaccines will take a while to change the course of this pandemic; however. I do believe that springtime will be a brighter time for us and summer even significantly more bright,” Lewis said.

This all comes alongside some bad news, as Lynchburg General Hospital has added an extra floor solely for COVID-19 patients.

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