Pharmacy partners, new vaccine, community clinics all steps to herd immunity in Virginia

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says the Commonwealth could reach herd immunity by the end of June, with Phase 1b wrapping up sometime in April.

Avula estimates about 5 million adults need to be vaccinated statewide in order to achieve herd immunity. Currently 1,193,349 people have received their first vaccine dose in Virginia.

Virginia continues chipping away at that goal with planned deliveries of 180,000 first doses of Pfizer and Moderna, 130,000 second doses and 52,000 doses being administered through the federal government’s partnership with pharmacy companies. This will be the second week Virginia has seen numbers this high from pharmacy partners.

Available doses could see another jump if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine receives an Emergency Use Authorization. Virginia is scheduled to receive 69,000 doses upon authorization. That number will not be sustained through the following weeks because the company currently has a large build of doses. Supply will drop off for a few weeks and then ramp up again in March.

Avula explained during a briefing on Friday that distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be slightly different. Clinics will be held where only the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered and people will be told that is what is being offered ahead of time. Eligible Virginians will be able to turn down those appointment opportunities and remain on the waiting list for the other vaccines.

As for distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there is a number of ways to receive a dose. More pharmacies kicked off vaccine distribution in Virginia last week.

Over 100 physical pharmacy locations are now administering vaccines in Virginia. While most are offering theirs in-store like CVS and Walgreens — Walmart is holding off-site community clinics.

Walmart’s vaccination clinics will be moving around each week to help reach communities with lower vaccination rates. Clinics were held in Chesterfield, Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Roanoke this week. Next week, Walmart will be offering vaccines in the Crater Health District, Prince William County, Norfolk and a fourth location.

Walmart has been maxing out appointments every day this week. Each week, 1,170 vaccine doses will be split among the four locations. People will be able to get shots through Walmart by signing up for the state’s vaccination pre-registration program.

Starting this week, seven out of Virginia’s eight pharmacy partners will be scheduling appointments using the statewide registration list.

CVS will continue using their own system to register Virginians over the age of 65.

Places like Walgreens kicked off their vaccination efforts using their own sign-up process but now that the statewide list is squared away it will be the default sign up method.

Avula encourages residents registered with the state to answer phone calls from unknown numbers as they could be the statewide call center, local health department or a pharmacy location calling about a possible appointment.

Sometime this weekend, all Virginians who have called, filled out an online form or registered with their local health department should be listed in Virginia’s pre-registration system. If not, fill out the form a second time or contact the Vaccinate Virginia number 1-877-829-4682.

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