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Health district begins vaccine campaign

Several doctors, nurses and other health care workers from the surrounding area made their way to the Prince Edward County Health Department building Wednesday, Jan. 6, to receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine and celebrate the kickoff of the Piedmont Health District’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

According to a press release distributed Jan. 6, because the supply of COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. is expected to be limited during the beginning of distribution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided guidance from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to federal, state and local governments regarding who should be vaccinated first.

Currently, health care personnel are eligible for the vaccine through Phase 1A. This includes but is not limited to workers such as EMS staff, physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, etc.

The health care professionals waiting to obtain their vaccine Wednesday morning provided some insight as to why they chose to receive the shot.

“I just look forward to getting to a point of normalcy,” Dr. Timothy Corbett, of Farmville, said. “I’d like to encourage folks to get the vaccine. I’m taking the vaccine myself just to be an example and encourage people, anybody who knows me, that I would recommend that they get it too in order for us to all become immune eventually and eventually allow the virus to go away.”

Kathleen Ruhl, a psych nurse practitioner from the Piedmont Geriatric Hospital, said Wednesday she was getting vaccinated to protect both herself and those she cares for.

“I think it’s extremely important I get vaccinated so that I can help protect my patients,” Ruhl said. “All of the population needs to get vaccinated so that we can protect each other and get back to a sense of normalcy.”

“Taking the vaccine today is a good opportunity,” Leonard Whiteside, an optometrist with the Commonwealth Vision Center, said. “Do your research. I’ve decided that it’s the best way, quickest way and safest way to get this country back to normal as soon as possible.”

“I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this historic campaign,” family nurse practitioner Harriet Vincent remarked as she waited her turn to be immunized.

On Wednesday, Vincent asked that residents stay vigilant in their mask wearing, hand hygiene and social distancing.

“Please do your patriotic duty and get the vaccine when you have the opportunity,” she said.

Also waiting his turn to get vaccinated Wednesday morning was Piedmont Health District Director Dr. H. Robert Nash.

“The acceptance of our health care workers in this area has been very good,” he said. “It hasn’t been 100%. I understand that. But I think as time goes on in the next several weeks those who have initially been resistant to the idea of the vaccine will probably change their perspective and get in line and roll up their sleeves. I really do.

“We’ve been waiting a year for this vaccine,” he highlighted, “and in that time we’ve lost over 300,000 American lives. This is probably the best tool that we’ve been able to develop in that year. It’s not going to take the place of face masks and social distancing. It’s one more excellent tool to lay on top of that so that we can decrease the prevalence of the virus to the point where most of us don’t need to worry about exposure to it anymore.”

Wednesday’s release adds that as vaccine priority groups become eligible, announcements will be made through newspaper, radio and press releases of when and where residents can obtain a vaccination.