Why Virginia is lagging behind when it comes to administering COVID-19 vaccines

Local News

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia is trailing behind other states when it comes to the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered.

As of Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health reported that nearly 960,000 vaccine doses have been distributed across the Commonwealth, but only about 400,000 have been administered, putting Virginia toward the bottom of all states.

As Virginia works to get vaccines out, a mass vaccination event at Richmond Raceway Thursday gave shots to about 1,300 people in Phase 1b, including teachers, school staff, fire and police personnel.

“It feels good to be a teacher right now,” said Courtney Swink, a second grade teacher in Henrico County who got her shot.

Gov. Ralph Northam, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Dr. Danny Avula, who is leading the Virginia vaccination effort, and other officials paid a visit to the mass vaccination event.

“I encourage all Virginians, as a doctor, that this vaccination is safe — it’s effective,” Gov. Northam said.

Dr. Avula provided some clarity on why there is a large discrepancy between the number of vaccines distributed and administered. He said thousands of the distributed doses have yet to be administered to long-term care facilities.

CVS and Walgreen’s were contracted by the federal government to administer about 226,000 vaccines to Virginia facilities. They report that about 56,000 have been administered so far.

“They are working through those facilities,” Dr. Avula said. “Many of the skilled nursing facilities have already been completed or will be completed by the end of January. They are working to staff up.”

Dr. Avula also said there is a data gap in the statewide system. About 90,000 vaccines which have been administered are not currently in the statewide database.

The state is working to manually enter those numbers and to ensure the registration systems that localities are using are correctly linked to the statewide database, according to Avula.

 “My job is to really close that gap and to make sure we get the data quality right to we have a much more accurate picture for Virginians about how vaccination is going here in the state,” he said.

Gov. Northam and Dr. Avula added that there is a supply shortage of vaccines. Virginia is requesting more doses than it is receiving.

Northam asked Virginians to be patient and said he is hopeful that by mid-summer, the state will have the ability to vaccinate 70 to 80 percent of the population. Achieving that number would give herd immunity, or a protection from the virus.

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