RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – As of Tuesday morning, Virginians hoping to sign up for the COVID-19 vaccine can do so through a new statewide system.
Up until now, sign-ups have largely been managed at the local level. Many have called these efforts confusing, inconsistent and inaccessible.
State leaders expect the centralized system to go more smoothly but some growing pains were evident on day one of the launch.
The “one-stop-shop” website allows Virginians to pre-register for the shot in minutes by filling out a short questionnaire. After completing the form, users should receive a confirmation email and/or text with a confirmation code. That code can be used to track your status online later on.
The system won’t allow you to schedule an appointment right away. Instead, the Virginia Department of Health will reach out once it’s your turn and provide weekly updates in the meantime.
According to state health officials, localities are still in charge of prioritization but this is expected to make the process more consistent.
Late last week, local health departments were directed to close their pre-registration portals in preparation for the launch. Signs up were suspended as existing waiting lists were imported into the new system.
Officials say those who have already pre-registered locally should not submit a new form, as their information will be transferred automatically.
“Data migration is continuing throughout the week and it may take several days for your name to appear in the centralized system,” the Virginia Department of Health said in a press release. “Everyone who has previously registered is still on the list, and their status will not be affected.”
Related coverage: What you need to know about Virginia’s new COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration system
Some users reported technical issues when the site launched Tuesday morning.
VDH declined 8New’s interview request but the agency’s release addressed the problems, saying, “The Virginia Department of Health expects millions of unique visits to the site on Tuesday, and IT teams will be addressing back-end components as needed throughout the day. Anyone who cannot get through immediately should try again.”
All of Virginia is currently in Phase 1b of vaccinations. It includes people age 65 and older, frontline essential workers, those living and working in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and migrant labor camps, and individuals with high-risk medical conditions.
Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator, has said about half of Virginia residents qualify under Phases 1a and 1b. He said the state isn’t likely to finish these two groups until March or April.
VDH is expected to launch a hotline number on Wednesday, February 17 to help people pre-register.
Due to technological limitations, Virginians who are getting the COVID-19 vaccine through CVS Pharmacy must continue to register for appointments on the pharmacy’s website. In a statement, CVS said in part:
Some states, including Virginia, require more limited eligibility to be vaccinated at pharmacies than at other vaccine locations, so we needed to customize the eligibility requirements on our scheduling site to help ensure that those seeking a vaccination at one of our pharmacies meet that more limited eligibility than would be determined on a state registration site. In Virginia specifically, pharmacies are currently only allowed to vaccinate those who are 65 and older.
Also, our scheduler is designed to help people find locations, dates and times convenient for them. Simply accessing names from another system would not give people the capability to schedule vaccination appointments at CVS based on their own preferences. And we capture contact information so that we can send vaccine appointment reminders for both doses. Also, our scheduling system does much more than let patients search for and book appointments. It is integrated with our pharmacy system and used to open medical profiles, set up insurance billing and report vaccine data to state immunization registries.Mike DeAngelis
CVS Senior Director, Corporate Communications
CLICK HERE to pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia.
People who live in Fairfax County should pre-register for vaccinations on the Fairfax County Health Department website, as the locality decided to opt-out of the statewide system.