RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccine plan has been fluid. At this time, less than one percent of Virginia’s population has received the first dose of the vaccine.
Christy Gray, director of the Division of Immunization at the Virginia Department of Health, provided an update via tele-press briefing on Wednesday, saying health officials have been working to have a successful rollout.
COVID-19 vaccines in Virginia
According to Gray, Virginia has distributed more than 285,000 vaccines from two manufactures, Pfizer and Moderna, and 54,295 COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been administered.
Virginians can keep track of the vaccines being administered on VDH’s new COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. Information in the dashboard lags behind because it depends on how quickly health officials enter the data.
Gray said VDH is actively planning for the next phase. However, at this time it is unclear when it will start due to Virginia receiving fewer COVID-19 vaccines than originally expected. This caused the department to update their vaccine rollout strategy.
When asked why Virginia is planning to receive only 370,650 from Operation Warp Speed, Gray said that from their understanding, calculations were wrong which resulted in several states receiving fewer vaccines.
The adjustment was made in the number of doses. Since VDH is receiving fewer vaccines, they had to down scale on how many doses each partner would receive.
At this time, there is no timeline for when all of the people in Phase 1-A will be vaccinated. Gray said that VDH is coordinating with providers and healthcare systems to identify and vaccinate health care personnel as quickly as possible.
Long-term care facilities are starting vaccinations this week as part of a partnership with Walgreens and CVS. Assisted living facilities are scheduled to start in the coming weeks as well. VDH had to allocate doses for this program.
VDH is expecting the last shipment of vaccines for the month of December by Thursday, Dec. 31.
Gray said that VDH does not have information on people in Phase 1-A that are declining to get the vaccine. She said people are excited to get the vaccine and feel a sense of hope and relief.
When asked about the method VDH uses when people in the healthcare systems are not excited about the vaccine or are raising safety concerns, Gray offered reassurance saying no corners were cut when it came to the vaccine.
“I would want to remind people that these vaccines have gone through every step that vaccines go through to be recommended for use in the United States,” Gray said, adding that all safety reviews happened.
Gray said that all partners were given prioritization documents indicating who falls under the Phase 1-A priority. This document also shows the order of how people who work in healthcare systems should be getting vaccinated.
However, these prioritization guidelines are subject to change because VDH has instructed partners no to waste vaccines.
This could mean that someone would get vaccinated if a vaccine becomes available — meaning it’s about to expire or was thawed and not used by the person it was intended for. Gray said when this happens the person is already there. VDH is not expecting healthcare systems or local health districts to be scheduling people in less high priority groups.
Right now there is no cutoff time for when VDH will decide that it’s okay to move on to Phase 1B. Gray said they want to make sure 1A is covered first and that this is a very fluid situation.
“We still do not have the approved recommendation on how Virginia is moving on to 1-B or 1-C yet,” Gray said.
Gray was also unable to say if one region of Virginia could move on to the next phase faster than another, or if the state would wait for all regions to move on together.
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