RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond and Henrico Health district said they will be distributing more vaccines to partners after receiving an increased weekly shipment.
Moving forward, the health district expects to receive 10,180 COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna weekly. Up until now, the district was receiving 6,300 vaccines.
The district currently serves six primary care providers/specialists, four safety net providers, three pharmacies, two dialysis centers, three health systems, and two urgent care facilities. The health district said that when choosing partnerships, they consider how many individuals from priority
populations each partner serves.
“Many of the residents in our community walk to our pharmacy because they do not have
transportation,” Dr. Shantelle Brown from Hope Pharmacy explained. “To know that they do not
have to be burdened with finding a means of transportation is an unprecedented convenience
that historically has not been offered to them.”
The health district is expecting to receive a 5,000 supply of the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine this weekend. Those vaccines will be used during a mass vaccination event on Monday.
Amy Popovich, RHHD Nurse Manager, said the health district is unsure of how many J&J vaccines it will receive in the future. The health district has already been told that following the first J&J shipment their will be a dip in supply.
“Flexibility is the name of the game. The only thing that is consent is change,” Popovich said during a news briefing Thursday.
Health district partners will distribute the COVID-19 vaccine doses they receive based on the pre-registration list. People pre-registered for the vaccine will be contacted by the city’s health department or a community partner. People should not contact the partners directly to ask for an appointment.
Popovich said she knows that many people are finding it hard to have patience. But the best way to ensure that you get vaccinated is to pre-register on the state’s interest form at vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA.
Local providers like Bremo Pharmacy said they have protections in place so people don’t just show up to the pharmacy expecting to get vaccinated. The pharmacy has opened an online registration for extra doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for people 65 or older.
“This was a policy we established very early in the process. We have a place on our website where people can register for extra doses. Anyone over 65 can get an extra dose,” Dr. Tana Kaefer from Bremo Pharmacy said.
In regards to “vaccine hunters,” the Virginia Department of Health said they are making sure that vaccines are distributed equitably and to those who need it most.
“VDH continues to encourage our health care partners to follow Virginia’s recommended COVID-19 Vaccination Prioritization Guidance,” VDH said in a statement to 8News. “Additionally, we request that healthcare partners balance following these guidance while also preventing wastage of vaccines. It is better for vaccines to be administered to someone not strictly “eligible” than for it to be wasted.”
The RHHD is expecting to move into the next group of phase 1b that includes people ages 16-64 with underlying conditions. This will most likely happen this month, Popovich said.
As the health district continues to make progress in vaccination efforts, providers are also finding ways to deal with the growing pains of getting people registered for the vaccine.
Bremo Pharmacy and Hope Pharmacy said they have found that a relationship based approach works best. Staff at both pharmacies spend time reaching out to people.
“Those patients are the most grateful that they have not been forgotten,” Dr. Kaefer said.
Dr. Shantelle Brown from Hope Pharmacy said she finds that addressing her patient’s concerns or answering questions helps educate the community on the importance of vaccination.
“Access is one thing but access, education and vaccination is another thing,” Dr. Brown said.