Wednesday marks one year since COVID-19 vaccinations in Virginia started in Hampton Roads

December 15, 2020, marked day of state's 1st vaccination clinic
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Posted at 3:38 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 22:31:07-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Wednesday marks one year since Virginia history was made in Hampton Roads.

December 15, 2020, was a pivotal point in the COVID-19 pandemic with the state’s first COVID-19 vaccine clinic being held at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

The first person to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia was Yolanda Dumas, an Environmental Services Technician for Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

“Looking back, it’s phenomenal,” Dumas told News 3.

Dumas recalled saying yes when her managers asked her if she wanted to be the Commonwealth’s first to get the COVID-19 vaccine. She remembers getting the shot at the state’s first clinic held at the hospital exactly one year ago.

“I was kind of shook at first, but it was a must that I had to do,” Dumas said. “Since I got it, I’ve been feeling really great. I have inspired others.”

Since Yolanda’s first dose, exactly one year later, Sentara Healthcare is approaching the 200,000 mark when it comes to vaccine doses administered.

Registered Nurse and Sentara Healthcare’s Vice President of Clinical Effectiveness, Mary Morin, recalls the healthcare system’s initial plan of focusing on healthcare workers before evolving to routine mass vaccine clinics.

“It was something I’d never thought I’d see in my career,” Morin said. “We’ve continued to do community-based clinics, particularly addressing the disparities of those areas of which we have underserved populations.”

News 3 also spoke with the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Chief Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Parham Jaberi where the state is, generally, when it comes to vaccination.

“We’re looking right now at two-thirds of the population, 66 percent, fully vaccinated in Virginia,” Dr. Jaberi told News 3. “These are some of the hallmarks to celebrate.”

According to Dr. Jaberi, overall, more than 13 million vaccination doses have been administered in Virginia. Close to 1.6 million doses have been administered in Hampton Roads.

“Virginia Beach, for example, is our most populated area,” Dr. Jaberi said, looking at numbers as of Tuesday, December 14, 2021. “We’ve had over 666,000 doses administered just in Virginia Beach, and the percent of the population that’s at fully vaccinated is at 64.9, or two-thirds. That’s generally where most of our localities are at, about two-thirds are vaccinated. Some a little lower in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News. Some are about the same rate.”

For Dr. Jaberi, the goal is to get as close to 100 percent as possible. However, challenges have included distrust and vaccine hesitancy, which is where Dr. Jaberi said health officials are focusing.

“The data is clear,” Dr. Jaberi said. “If you get vaccinated, you’ll be protected against the illness.”

Meanwhile, Morin and others in Hampton Roads are looking ahead to year two of vaccination in 2022.

“You put a plan in place,” Morin said. “You plan for your worst-case scenario, which would be we’d have to re-vaccinate everybody. We are doing that. We’re planning on having to do this again, possibly, in 2022, and thereafter.”

Dr. Jaberi told News 3 they've been partnering with faith-based groups to help with vaccine access, and they're also still encouraging masking indoors and other prevention layers.

Dr. Jaberi also mentioned a new initiative involving free COVID-19 testing through some libraries across the Commonwealth.