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Pardee, BRCC commemorate first mass vaccination effort

BRCC nursing students vaccinated patients during the clinic on the campus. BRCC nursing students vaccinated patients during the clinic on the campus.

Nearly 200 people gathered on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College Tuesday to commemorate the first Covid-19 mass vaccination clinic in Henderson County.

Volunteers and staff from both Pardee UNC Health Care and Blue Ridge Community College were invited to the official unveiling of a historical marker for the vaccine clinic, enjoy lunch and hear words of appreciation from Pardee and Blue Ridge leadership.
“You helped make history” was the theme of the day. Each speaker noted that the volunteers who helped staff the clinic set up by Pardee UNC Health Care on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College were part of an historic effort. The clinic, which vaccinated its first community member on Jan. 11, was the first in the county and was responsible for the vast majority of vaccinations before the clinic closed on May 8 and vaccines became more widely available through pharmacies and doctors' offices. More than 500 volunteers played supporting roles, and BRCC was an integral partner in the effort, providing not only the location but staff and nursing students to help with vaccinations.
BRCC President Laura Leatherwood welcomed attendees to the campus and noted that they were the first outside large group to be in the space since the vaccine clinic began in January.

"When asked if Blue Ridge Community College would provide space for a clinic, for as long as it was needed, to assist with the vaccination process, we did not hesitate,” she said. She also proudly noted that more than 115 faculty, staff and students had volunteered in the clinic.
Jay Kirby, president and CEO of Pardee UNC Health Care recognized the contributions of Blue Ridge, all the volunteers in attendance and key Pardee team members who made the clinic possible.

“There were numerous people on daily calls, pulled away from their main roles for months, to make this happen,” he said. “It is important that we recognize these team members and their hard work, ingenuity and dedication to our community. They were physically and mentally exhausted, but they continued to show up.” Kirby then went on to recognize specific Pardee team members.

Kirby, along with Johnna Reed, Pardee's chief administrative officer, unveiled the historic marker before the crowd, noting that the plaque will be installed in its final, permanent location in the coming weeks. The plaque is inscribed with the following message:

First Covid-19 Mass Vaccination Clinic
Henderson County
January 11 – May 6, 2021