‘Nerve-wracking and rewarding’: Virginia health care systems begin vaccinating frontline workers for COVID-19

The first shipment rolled into the region Tuesday and Wednesday

ROANOKE, Va. – After months of waiting, frontline workers in our area are now being vaccinated for COVID-19.

The shipment rolled into the region Tuesday and Wednesday and priority workers started rolling up their sleeves.

“I think the federal express driver had never had such an exciting package on their truck,” said Alan Larson, Sovah Health, Market President and CEO Sovah Health in Danville.

From Sovah to Lewis Gale to Carilion and Centra Health - hope has arrived!

“We’re excited. This is something we’ve all waited for,” said Chad Alvarez, Pharm.D., Senior Director of Pharmacy and the leader of Carilion’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force

Frontline workers are finding relief after months of bearing the weight of a global pandemic.

“It has been nerve-wracking and rewarding and scary all at the same mixture,” said Mary Rogers, RN, CRMH COVID-19 Unit

Rogers is one of the first to be vaccinated at Carilion. She says while she loves caring for the sick, this pandemic has taken a physical and emotional toll on healthcare workers.

“We take a lot of pride in the fact that nobody on our unit has passed alone. There’s always been nurses in the room with them, holding their hand and that can just be a drain on you emotionally, but there’s nowhere else I’d rather be,” said Rogers.

Meanwhile, over at Sovah, Market Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sheranda Gunn-Nolan was one of the first to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the hospital.

“COVID-19 is now the number one cause of death in the United States and that trajectory has to change. This is the first step in doing so,” said Dr. Gunn-Nolan.

She says while vaccines help, she encourages the community to continue supporting healthcare providers.

“Everyone is getting tired including the general population, but we just need to make sure we’re giving those thanks to the people who are putting their lives at risk to make sure we keep going,” said Dr. Gunn-Nolan.

After playing defense for months, the small vaccine is a big weapon in the fight to put the pandemic behind us.


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