Richmond health leaders: city is ‘at the top of the hill’, vaccine supply finally meeting demand

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A quarter of Richmond residents are fully vaccinated while 40% have at least one dose, according to the city’s top health leaders.

Mayor Levar Stoney joined the city’s nurse manager to give a COVID-19 update at his weekly virtual news conference Tuesday.

City leaders are calling this a pivotal moment in Richmond vaccine rollout. “No more are the days of waiting by the phone, or scrolling and refreshing your email,” said Amy Popovich, nurse manager for the Richmond and Henrico health district. “It’s your time now!”

As everyone 16 and older is now eligible, Popovich said a new online tool makes the vaccine easier than ever to sign up for. It allows people to proactively schedule a vaccine appointment directly through the health district in just a few clicks, versus waiting for an email from the Virginia Department of Health or VAMS, the CDC’s registration portal.

“If we continue to make the progress that we’ve been making, I think that by the end of summer time, we can have the closest thing to normalcy that we’ve seen since 2019,” Stoney said.

Popovich said finally this week, vaccine supply is meeting demand. The Johnson & Johnson pause did not making a substantial impact, according to the nurse manager.

“We’re kind of at the top of the hill, where vaccine supply and demand is beginning to equalize out,” she said.

Popovich said more walk-up clinics are on the horizon as their focus shifts from getting older residents vaccinated to getting Pfizer doses to children ages 16 and 17. Pfizer is currently the only approved vaccine for older teens.

They’re also working on assuring other demographics still hesitant to get vaccinated that the doses are safe.

Moments before the news conference began, the CDC announced that its relaxing some of its mask guidelines. The agency said fully vaccinated people can ditch their masks outdoors in most cases. Exceptions include packed concerts or busy sporting games.

The CDC leaders said they expect to relax guidelines even more in coming months as more people get vaccinated.

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