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One year since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Virginia at Sentara Healthcare

Yolanda Dumas got the Pfizer vaccine on Dec. 15, 2020. She was the first person in Virginia to get vaccinated.

NORFOLK, Va. — Today marks a big moment in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Hampton Roads. It's been one year since a local health care worker became the first in Virginia to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Yolanda Dumas got the Pfizer vaccine on Dec.15, 2020. The vaccine became a game changer for the pandemic.

"I mean, looking back is like phenomenal. I was kind of shook at first, but it was a must that I had to do," Dumas said.

RELATED: 'I feel great' | Sentara's first frontline worker to get Pfizer vaccine shares update on her experience

Dumas was on the frontline of the pandemic, and still is, as an environmental services worker.

“Since I got it, I’ve been feeling really great. I have inspired others," Dumas said. "I got the booster 4 weeks ago! Yes, I did.”

The Pfizer vaccines arrived last December at a time when COVID-19 cases were beginning to skyrocket.

Sentara’s Vice President of Clinical Effectiveness Mary Morin said without the vaccine, she believes the pandemic would have been a lot worse – with “exponential deaths and hospitalizations.”

“The idea of that actually gives me a knot in my stomach. I just can’t imagine what our hospitals and our community would be like. I think it would have been devastating," Morin said.

“We all experienced the Delta surge right after Fourth of July and I know many expressed, they felt very fortunate they were vaccinated.”

Morin said the vaccine saved lives and changed lives.

“We have opened up restaurants and public venues – you know it was tough, our kids are back in school – which I think is huge, we’re seeing our families. The vaccine has allowed us to do that," she said. "That was the biggest game changer.”

Both Morin and Dumas say it’s never too late to get vaccinated.  

“It’s just for your safety and others," Dumas said.

According to Morin, Sentara health care workers have administered close to 200,000 vaccine doses.

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