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Aliyah is one of 1,200 VCU student volunteers fighting COVID: 'An amazing opportunity'

Posted at 4:16 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 18:26:03-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 1,200 Virginia Commonwealth University students have signed up to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19. The university’s healthcare community and Dr. Alan Dow established the VCU Vaccine Corps last month.

“We realized right about the first of the year that we needed some sort of mechanism to recruit and train and then help schedule volunteers,” Dr. Dow explained.

Nursing student Aliyah Simmons has been assigned as a greeter, scheduler, and vaccinator during three vaccination clinics at the VCU Health Hub at 25.

“Just being a part of the push for the vaccine, the push for change, and the push for really sticking it to COVID-19 literally with the vaccine. It’s been an amazing opportunity,” she stated. “It’s a historic moment to be able to say years down the line I helped to administer those COVID vaccines.”

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More than 1,600 VCU students, faculty and staff, and VCU Health team members have expressed interest in volunteering with the VCU Vaccine Corps.

Nearly 1,200 of those who have expressed interest are VCU students.

“What’s really going to end this is vaccination and our vaccine corps recognize they want to be a part of that solution to get us to the end of this,” Dow said.

Dow, who also teaches in the School of Medicine as a professor of internal medicine, said the training now will help our community for years to come.

“We are learning a lot. Whether it’s five years, 10 years, or 100 years, when something like this happens again hopefully we will have some lessons that we can then implement and be able to be better the next time we face such a challenge,” he explained.

A bill approved by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam last week gives more eligible health care providers the opportunity to join statewide efforts to vaccinate the millions of Virginians waiting to be immunized.

Simmons, who is Black, said she volunteered to prove that the vaccine is safe to a community that has historically been skeptical of participating in the government’s healthcare system.

She is fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“VCU is giving us the stage to shine, so why not and help out our community while we are doing it,” she said.