Dr. Avula: localities receive vaccine allotments based on population, weekly vaccine shipments below demand

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Henrico County Health Districts Director, Dr. Danny Avula, gestures during a news conference at the Government Center on Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Avula gave an update on the Canterbury Rehabilitation Center COVID-19 cases and deaths. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond City and Henrico County Health Department Director Dr. Danny Avula gave an update on Virginia’s current vaccination efforts. Right now, the state is distributing 105,000 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations each week, despite a much higher demand.

Second vaccination doses are sent out separately three to four weeks after the first shipment. As more people get their first dose and are in need of second, the number of first doses could drop lower than 105,000.

The Commonwealth distributes an average of 19,405 doses each day.

Since vaccination efforts started here have been 1,010,150 total vaccine doses distributed and 424,857 have been administered. Leaving an almost 600,000 dose gap between what is available and what has been used.

Avula says there will naturally continue to be a gap between these two figures because doses are set aside for upcoming vaccination events. He explains that gap will typically be anywhere from 170,000 to 200,000 doses.

In order to close this gap and speed of the vaccination process Avula says the state will continue building infastructure around mass vaccination events. The state is also looking at other pharmacies outside of CVS and Walgreens to further help get Virginians vaccinated.

Outside of federal pharmacy programs there are already 2,000 provider groups and 400 pharmacies capable of administering vaccines in Virginia.

As many residents remain concerned that their locality may be receiving less vaccination doses than others, Avula explains that the doses are divided up by population density. If a health district contains 3% of the state population then they will receive 3% of the state’s new vaccine allotment for that week.

Due to the low number of new vaccines entering the Commonwealth each week, every locality will get what is seemingly a small piece of the pie. Populous counties are still only receiving a few thousand doses. Avula says Chesterfield County is only getting about 4,700 vaccinations per week.

Previously some localities may have gotten less vaccinations because they had not caught up on administering previous allotments and updating their data. Avula says that as of this week it is no longer an issue and he is sure health districts can all vaccinate reliably.

Once the vaccines are given to each health district it is up them how they want to get vaccines into the arms of locals. Many health departments have already made the transition to phase 1b and the rest wil make the switch by the beginning of February.

This group contains many essential workers as well as a Virginia’s high risk population. Avula made a reminder during his breifing that the essential workers are broken up into tiers and will be vaccinated in a certain order. The phase 1b prioritization order is listed below:

  1. Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  2. Corrections and homeless shelter workers
  3. Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff (public and private)
  4. Food and Agriculture (including veterinarians)
  5. Manufacturing
  6. Grocery store workers
  7. Public transit workers
  8. Mail carriers (USPS and private)
  9. Officials needed to maintain continuity of government (including judges and public-facing judicial workers)

Not included in the tiered list but still under phase 1b is anyone over the age of 65, people with certain conditions that increase their risk of becoming severly ill, and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps.

Avula says that the high risk individuals will be vaccinated at the same time as essential workers with health district determining each week how to divide vaccines up between the two categories. He explains that some who is 75 doesn’t necessarily come before or after someone who is a police officer or teacher.

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