Following public criticism of its plan to vaccinate nearly 800 employees who aren’t qualified to receive the vaccine, Virginia Credit Union has reversed course.
In a Thursday morning email to credit union employees, Chris Shockley, president of the Virginia Credit Union, said he takes responsibility for not informing employees of the efforts to support Buford Road Pharmacy in its vaccination clinics for 100-plus businesses by offering the credit union’s space at its corporate offices in Chesterfield County.
“With such limited supply there are others in our community who need to receive the vaccine ahead of our employees so we are adjusting our rollout,” Shockley wrote in the email to employees that was shared with the Richmond Times-Dispatch by the credit union. “As financial institutions are in Group 1c, we will offer vaccinations to our staff at the appropriate time, once vaccinations for Group 1c are open.”
The pharmacy would have conducted the first vaccinations this Sunday for the credit union’s employees along with those working at Joyner Fine Properties, which the state’s largest state-chartered, member-owned financial cooperative acquired in July 2019. The Sunday event, which a spokesman called a “dry run for those procedures,” had about 450 employees signed up. It was canceled Wednesday night.
The pharmacy found out Monday there was no supply. An email for employees of the real estate firm to sign up for vaccinations was sent Tuesday.
A credit union spokesman said he did not know about the clinic on Wednesday afternoon, before saying Wednesday evening it was a planned partnership with Buford Road Pharmacy to offer a room inside the credit union’s corporate headquarters for future large-scale vaccination events. An hour after that, the spokesman said the event was canceled because the vaccine wasn’t available.
On Wednesday, Joseph Jadallah, Buford’s lead pharmacist, said the event had been done in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health and that it was common practice for people who volunteered at these vaccination events to receive a shot beforehand that would protect them against the virus.
It was unclear how many of the 450 credit union and real estate employees who signed up would be asked to volunteer at future vaccination events.
In an email sent Tuesday to Joyner Fine Properties employees, which was obtained by The Times-Dispatch, the real estate firm’s president John Stone did not mention future public vaccination events and Thursday’s email to credit union employees suggested they too were not informed.
A Chesterfield Health District spokesperson confirmed that local health districts have been vaccinating volunteers, but an email sent to employees two days earlier from Stone did not mention volunteer opportunities. The email called the event “a part of our ongoing efforts to support your safety and well-being as an essentially designated business.”
Earlier this week, Chesterfield County Public Schools announced a delay in teachers getting vaccinated ahead of returning to in-person learning on Feb. 1. The school was allotted 750 doses instead of the estimated 4,000.