RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is asking hospitals to reroute second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to get more shots in more arms.
Dr. Danny Avula, who is leading the state’s vaccine effort, said while some healthcare workers are still waiting the three to four week period before it is time for their second dose, vaccines have been left sitting in freezers.
“What we have asked hospitals to do this week is to take those second doses that were scheduled for appointments next week and beyond, and use those this week as first doses,” Avula explained.
VCU Health initially told 8News Wednesday that it is one of those hospitals. The state asked VCU Health to reroute several thousand second doses to allow first responders and other vulnerable citizens to get their first doses, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.
The spokesperson said this would delay second dose vaccinations for VCU Health workers, as well as some staff and students. This left some, like one VCU Health employee who did not want to be identified, concerned about their canceled vaccination appointment.
However, late Wednesday evening, VCU Health told 8News they made a mistake. They clarified that second doses will be administered as originally planned.
In a global pandemic, our mission to serve the public has never been more important. In our efforts to do just that, we misunderstood the request to provide as many vaccines doses as possible for public use. We were not asked to provide all our available doses.
We are immediately making a change and will administer second doses as we originally planned to all those due to receive them. No second appointments will be cancelled. We will communicate quickly to those individuals to help fix this problem.
We are pleased that we can do this and are delighted we can still provide vaccine to help meet community needs.
We apologize to everyone who has been alarmed about a delay in receiving their second vaccine. Please be assured that we are 100 percent committed to making this right.Arthur L. Kellermann, M.D., M.P.H.
Senior Vice President for VCU Health Sciences
CEO of VCU Health System
Dr. Avula said reallocating second doses should not impact anyone’s ability to still receive their full vaccination.
“What we have seen consistently over the last three weeks is that the federal government has delivered what they promised in terms of second doses,” Avula said.
“If we have vaccine in the Commonwealth and we know that it’s allocated for people’s second dose but they can’t get that for two weeks, we would rather use it now,” he added.