Virginia reaching for herd immunity as COVID vaccine eligibility expands, demand decreases

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Across the nation every American adult is now eligible for a coronavirus vaccine, and challenges exist ahead to reach herd immunity.

Virginia’s goal to have at least 70% of adults vaccinated may be ambitious to some, given varying hesitancy; primarily among rural and minority populations.

But after months of priority jabs for people more susceptible to serious illness, every Virginian–16 and older–can now sign up for a shot.

“This vaccination process is our path towards saving lives and ending this pandemic,” Governor Ralph Northam said Monday during a press conference in Fairfax County.

An emergency alert was blasted to cell phones across the state Monday morning, notifying people of open eligibility.

Northam said around half of adults have already received at least one dose.

Virginia’s Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula acknowledged the work ahead to keep demand high as supply comes in.

“Every week we’re seeing demand drop off in certain communities. We’re shifting that to northern Virginia, to the Charlottesville area where we’re still seeing demand,” Avula said.

“This is about do you want to keep yourself and your community safe and help us progress economically and socially moving forward.”

To sign up for a vaccine, call the state’s help line at 877-VAX-IN-VA or visit vaccinate.virginia.gov.

Once on-site, select the ‘vaccine finder’ page, and use a zip code and find local providers.

Though a timeline is unknown when herd immunity will be achieved, the governor said he is hopeful, “…certainly by 2022, the beginning of 2022 we will be much closer.”

Northam targets that every Virginian, who seeks a vaccine, will have a shot administered by the end of May, all the while counting on the FDA authorizing vaccines for teenagers age 12 to 16.

Initial trial reports from Pfizer have indicated promising vaccine effectiveness among these young people.

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