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'This is a big deal': Riverside Health System receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines

Riverside Health said it's been preparing for the coronavirus vaccine up until the moment it arrived.

Riverside Health System said it's been preparing for months for the COVID-19 vaccine to finally arrive at the hospital's doorstep. 

On Friday, Governor Ralph Northam announced local hospitals will receive the vaccine distributions as early as Monday or Tuesday of this week. Sentara received the shipments on Monday. Riverside Health received it early Tuesday morning.

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Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer at Riverside Health, Cindy Williams, said this moment has been a long time coming. 

"We were checking and re-checking everything we had put together to make sure it was matched what was approved by the FDA, so that we're ready to go and immunize our team members starting as early as this week," said Williams.

Williams said the hospital system is receiving almost 3,000 doses for its healthcare workers. She said the hospital is not making it mandatory for employees to receive the vaccines but said an internal survey shows many are on board.

Williams expressed how happy she is to be a part of a historical moment and to finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

"It's really exciting to come this far, this fast, and that this really may be what will bring us out of this pandemic and let us return to what our previous life was," said Williams.

Williams hopes to get some of the first healthcare workers vaccinated within 24 hours of the shipment's arrival. She said it will then take time to distribute the rest of the doses to the other hospital locations.