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VMI Supports Community Vaccination Effort

Cadets Holly Arnold ’22, Miles Ortiz ’24, and Abigail Soyars ’24 prepare for a community vaccination clinic at the former Gordman’s building March 11.—VMI Photo by Kelly Nye.

In spring 2021, VMI began assisting with the setup and staffing of a mass vaccination effort against COVID-19, supporting vaccine administration that started in mid-March at the former Peebles/Gordmans building located in the College Square Shopping Center in Lexington.

The initiative comes as vaccine supply increased nationwide with a consequent push to deliver vaccines as quickly and efficiently as possible. With this goal in mind, Rockbridge County leased the former department store building from its owner, Harding & Associates, through the end of June, with an extension possible if needed. The county will apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement for all costs associated with the vaccination center.

With vaccine administration that began March 12, VMI assisted the day before by loaning 20 tables and 150 chairs, along with people to set them up. Assisting with this effort were Col. Kevin Faust ’96, deputy commandant for support; Maj. Eric Schwartz ’95, deputy director, Physical Plant; and Larry Camper, chief of maintenance and operations, Physical Plant, along with about 10 cadets from the Building BRIDGES service club.

The new location supplements Carilion Rockbridge Community Hospital and the Rockbridge Area Health Center as administration sites for the vaccine, among other local agencies.

Col. Jay Williams Jr. ’83, VMI director of emergency management, praised the quick, cooperative local effort to set up a vaccine clinic, which came together inside of a week.

“It was a total team effort,” said Williams in March, who has been in constant contact with several regional partners over the past year as the COVID-19 situation has evolved. “Everyone, and I mean everyone, stepped up and told Spencer Suter [Rockbridge County administrator] that they stood ready to help in any way. This is what I love about our community.”

During the following weeks, some clinics administered up to 1,000 vaccines in a day. Some clinics were designated specifically for college students and other groups. VMI volunteers have helped community members schedule their second doses, pushed wheelchairs, and completed other tasks that allowed these clinics to be so successful.

  • Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing