Governor Ralph Northam announced plans this week for moving forward with distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to 8.5 million Virginia residents. He specifically laid out phases for vaccinations, which include giving the vaccine to those most at risk. He was optimistic the Commonwealth would meet its goal of administering 50,000 doses a week just as it successfully built up the testing program earlier. Rates in Virginia are four times higher than last spring, and it is only a matter of time before a new, more contagious form of the virus reaches the state. Despite the optimism of a vaccine at hand, the Governor cautioned patience, saying it would "take a moment" to get the vaccine to everyone.
Current Vaccine Situation
Virginia has 8.5 million residents, all of which will need two doses of the two available vaccines. That is 17 million shots. Virginia is receiving around 110,000 doses a week, giving the state a capacity of about 14,000 doses a day. The short-term goal is to provide 25,000 shots a day, with a long-term goal of doubling that number to get all Virginians vaccinated. Manufacturers are working around the clock to mass-produce the vaccines, which require complex storage and transport. Governor Northam also asked for patience with the frontline healthcare workers who will be administering the vaccines, who are already weary from managing the pandemic for almost a year.
Plans for Distributing the Vaccine
In his news conference, the Governor's information on distribution plans involved a promise that every available dose will be given out until there is no more. He also outlined information on who is included under each phase.
Phase 1a includes healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents. Phase 1b includes essential frontline workers, people ages 75 and over and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps. Phase 1c includes other essential workers, people over 65 and people over 16 with underlying medical conditions. The general population is after the first three phases.
The Governor said vaccines would be distributed to health departments, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. He said healthcare workers should give out all the vaccines they will receive more. He described it as a "use or lose" situation, promising that those outlets that do not give out all their dosages will not continue to receive them. Locally, the Rappahannock Area Health Department (RAHD) will be disseminating the vaccines. Stafford will be reposting any information sent out by RAHD.
Current COVID-19 Situation in RAHD and Stafford County
The numbers have risen in both the Rappahannock Area Health District and Stafford County. The seven-day positivity rate PCR only for the district is 19.3% of those tested. To this point, Stafford County has had a total of 5,848 confirmed cases, with more than 1,000 of those happening in the last two weeks. The public is advised to observe the recommended protocols for staying well as we wait for widespread distribution of the vaccine: wash your hands; wear masks; stay home if you possibly can, and practice social distancing.
For more information on plans for the vaccine's rollout, please visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.