Avula: Herd immunity still within reach but communities with low vaccination rates will see outbreaks

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thursday was the last day to get vaccinated at two major clinics. The Richmond Raceway and the Goochland clinic are closing as demand drops.

However, you can still get a shot many other ways, from mobile clinics to your doctor’s office, but the closures are marking a turning point in the pandemic.

“This phase of the vaccine rollout is much more about communications, and engagement, and getting one person at a time as opposed to 5,000 people in a day,” Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccination coordinator, said.

He said the shift is from mass vaccination sites to primary care providers. Officials want to get
get enough shots into those offices so if people stop by for a checkup, they can get a vaccine right then and there too.

As of Thursday night, nearly 55% of Virginians have at least one dose and 43% are fully vaccinated.

Dr. Avula said though demand has dipped, thousands are still getting vaccinated every day. He says herd immunity is still within reach.

“We’re working really hard to continue making vaccine available, to continue prioritizing convenience. [We’re] doing more neighborhood vaccinations, pop up vaccinations, going to where people are,” he said.

Statewide, Avula said he still expects 70% of adults to have at least one shot by or before July 4, along with President Biden’s national goal.

Vaccination rates among children are also picking up. “In some parts of the state, we’re seeing upwards of 50% of our adolescent population who’ve already been vaccinated,” he said.

Vaccine hesitancy is no new issue. Many have decided that they don’t want the shot. Dr. Avula said communities with low vaccination rates will continue seeing outbreaks.

He says, “I don’t think we’re gonna get to a place or a country or a global society where we completely vanquish COVID.”

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