Volunteers help play a huge role in Virginia’s vaccination response

Volunteers help play a huge role in Virginia’s vaccination response

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As Virginia continues its task of getting more shots into arms, there is a large, collective effort to make that happen. It’s not just doctors and nurses that are helping administer COVID-19 vaccinations, the window has expanded to allow even more people to do it.

Across the state, 2,200 people are working right now to help get shots into arms, but they can’t do it alone. That’s why there are some 35,000 volunteers on call - helping fill a critical need.

When you head to the vaccination site of your choice, you’ll see all hands on deck.

“We have volunteers helping greet people when they come in…helping us park cars, making sure the traffic is flowing,” Jeannine Uzel with the Virginia Department of Health said. Then there are those working behind the scenes. “We have folks helping us load information into the computer because we’ve got to report these doses to the CDC within 24 hours.”

And perhaps most important, those who are actually administering the shot. Turns out, they’re not all doctors or nurses. In some cases, Uzel says “those are folks like athletic trainers, dentists, dental hygienists, respiratory therapists.”

Special training is underway to allow more people who meet certain qualifications to help administer the vaccines. There’s a one-hour training that involves three different courses, one on each vaccine.

“So they know the holding temperature, how to dilute the vaccine, how to packet for transfer to our clinic sites when they’re off-site,” she continued.

Henrico Supervisor Dan Schmitt has witnessed much of the work firsthand at the Richmond Raceway.

“There’s folks walking through puddles pushing wheelchairs, and it’s just great to see…This is probably one of the most satisfying things I’ve worked on in my career. It’s putting families back together and it’s healing our community,” he said.

Every day volunteers are signing up to help make sure you and your family can say – “I’m Vaccinated.”

“They’re a huge part of our response. Our medical public health workforce is not large. We’ve been stretched incredibly thin,” Uzel said.

Some of the vaccine training happens online. The health department performs in-person visits to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Volunteers are also needed to help register people and man phone lines.

Information on becoming a volunteer can be found, here.

Information on vaccine training can be found, here.

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