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Frontline workers begin receiving COVID-19 vaccine at Sentara Healthcare

Gov. Ralph Northam visited as Virginia's frontline workers received their first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was in attendance at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on Tuesday afternoon, to watch frontline healthcare workers there get the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine.

The first to receive a vaccination was Yolanda Dumas, who has worked as a frontline worker at Sentara for nearly 20 years.

“I feel good. I feel the same," Dumas said after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. "It’s just like a normal flu shot.” 

The vaccine has been in development for months. The FDA approved it for emergency use on Friday night.

The distribution of the vaccine starts with healthcare workers and people who live in long-term care facilities, two groups of people who are considered to be at higher risk of contracting the virus.

Dumas said she has seen, firsthand, how the coronavirus pandemic has affected families and she’s hoping that by getting the vaccine, she can set an example for others. 

“By us getting the vaccine today, I’m trying to encourage everybody else to get it as well," she said. "Don't be ashamed. I'm the first person to get it and I don't have any side effects - so join the team!"

Several frontline workers also got vaccinated after Dumas. Everyone was monitored for 15 minutes afterward to ensure there were no adverse effects.

This is the first shot of two doses the recipients will need to get.

Governor Ralph Northam said he hopes these first doses of the vaccine signal a long-awaited end to the coronavirus pandemic.

“To have Yolanda be one of the first individuals in Virginia to take the vaccination, this is a big step forward for us," he said. "We’ve been fighting this pandemic now for 10 months and this is finally the light, the hope, at the end of a long dark tunnel.”

Sentara received 11,700 doses of the vaccine, Monday morning.

Northam said as vaccination efforts continue, he hopes everyone will make plans to receive the shot when it becomes available to them.

"Hopefully by the summertime, all Virginians will have access to the vaccination and we can finally put this pandemic behind us," Northam said.