When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? The latest on availability in Hampton Roads

COVID-19 Vaccine

Health districts are moving to Phase 1b

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A common question 10 On Your Side keeps hearing is ‘when can I get my COVID-19 vaccine?’

The answer in part depends on where you live and how much vaccine is available.

Currently, the vaccine is being offered to those eligible for Phases 1a and 1b across Virginia.

Phase 1a – Healthcare Workers and Long-Term Care Residents
Phase 1b – Essential workers such as police officers, teachers, grocery store workers, and postal service workers, people age 65 and older, people age 16-64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19, and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps

Although the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) lists residents 65 or older as part of Phase 1b, some Hampton Roads health districts are beginning 1b with those 75 years of age or older and will add other groups as more vaccine becomes available.

There is no set date for when Virginia will move to Phase 1c, which the VDH defines on its website as “other essential workers.”

Local health departments will be providing updated information on how and when you can receive your COVID-19 vaccine, based on availability. Currently, the supply of the vaccine is low, while the demand is high.

The Virginia Department of Health and its local offices are in charge of vaccine distribution. Hampton officials – and city/county officials in other localities – are working with the state to assist in various ways.

Virginians who do not fall into priority categories will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available.

WAVY TV 10 provides news coverage for the following health districts. Here is where each one currently stands (updated Jan. 22, 2021).

Chesapeake Health District 

Chesapeake is the second largest city in the commonwealth, behind Virginia Beach.

Although Chesapeake was officially the first Hampton Roads city to begin 1b vaccinations, according to VDH, the city is still working to finish up Phase 1a. According to a Facebook post by the health district, they hope to finish up first doses of Phase 1a by the end of January with second doses for 1a starting Feb. 1.

The next priority group, Phase 1b, includes frontline essential workers (such as police officers, teachers, grocery store workers, and postal service workers), people aged 65 years and older, and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps.

The city acknowledges that getting an online appointment is complicated and to help alleviate that, they set up a hotline. The number is 757-683-2745.

10 On Your Side has learned Rite Aid stores in Chesapeake are the only ones in Virginia currently handling COVID-19 vaccinations. That’s because their doses are coming from the local health department’s weekly allotment, rather than through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program that gives vaccine doses to stores like CVS. Get more information about the Rite Aid distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine at this link.

Crater Health District

The Crater Health District serves the cities of Emporia, Hopewell and Petersburg and the counties of Dinwiddie, Greensville, Prince George, Surry and Sussex.

VDH shows that this district has entered Phase 1b of vaccine distribution.

10 On Your Side has reached out to health officials for more information on its distribution plan. Check back for updates.

Eastern Shore Health District

The Eastern Shore Health District (ESHD) announced to the public that on Jan. 13 it would begin expanding the COVID-19 vaccine to those identified as part of Phase 1b. They are working in partnership with with Eastern Shore Rural Health System (ESRHS) and Riverside Medical System.

ESHD defines Phase 1b to include police, fire and hazmat response personnel, those 75 or over, childcare/K-12 teachers and staff, those living and working in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, food, agriculture and aquaculture workers, manufacturers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, and mail carriers (USPS and private).

“We have nearly completed the first round of Phase 1a vaccinations. We will now be focusing on Phase 1b, prioritizing those at highest risk for negative health outcomes and members of our community with the highest risk of exposure,” said Chief Operating Officer Jon Richardson, of the Eastern Shore Health District.

Many recipients in Phase 1b will get their shots at workplace clinics, according to a news release.

Those age 75 and older should contact their primary care provider to schedule an appointment.

“We anticipate it will take several weeks to work our way through vaccinating Phase1b individuals while simultaneously administering the second dose to 1a individuals,” health officials said.

Employers who fall under Phase 1b who do not have a plan in place yet for their employees and have not heard from ESHD can call 757-787-5880 to coordinate a vaccination clinic.

Hampton / Peninsula

The Hampton and Peninsula Health Districts issued a joint statement with their plans to begin vaccinating members of their communities eligible for Phase 1b vaccinations.

On Jan. 22, local governments in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson and Williamsburg, as well as James City and York counties, began opening clinics to vaccinate the most critical employees who interact with the public.

Currently, they are focusing on providing the vaccine to front line workers, those living in congregate settings and residents 75 years of age or older. Other sectors of Phase 1b will be added as more vaccine becomes available.

Anyone 75 years of age or older interested in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine should complete the survey at the following link (the survey title says “65 & above,” but the Hampton and Peninsula health districts are only scheduling individuals 75+ at this time.) You can also call 757-594-7496 and leave a message at the prompt.

All of the vaccination clinics are appointment only. They are not open to the public.

A vaccination clinic opened last week in the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center. It is not currently open to the general public. The City of Williamsburg and James City County, in partnership with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, have established an information line for the community’s questions about the clinic. The phone number is 877-724-1954.

“Though this clinic is currently vaccinating only Williamsburg-James City County Schools staff and the local frontline government employees who are essential to the continuity of government, we know that many of you have questions about the vaccination process,” City Manager Andrew O. Trivette said. “We may not be able to satisfy the understandable desire to get your vaccination scheduled, but this phone line provides the community a point of contact that has the most
up-to-date information for this area.”

In early February, York County health officials launched a COVID-19 helpline to assist individuals in registering for the COVID-19 vaccine.

That COVID-19 hoteline closed at 5 p.m. on March 2. The number of callers seeking assistance has declined significantly since the launch of the Vaccinate Virginia phone line and website.

Those needing help should call the Vaccinate Virginia phone line, 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682), available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Norfolk Health Department

The Norfolk Department of Public Health announced that Phase 1b vaccinations would begin Monday, Jan. 25.

“We are pleased to announce we are now moving into Phase 1b and vaccinating our next eligible group,” said Norfolk Department of Public Health Director Dr. Demetria Lindsay. “As the vaccine becomes more widely available, it is still important to adhere to public health prevention practices.”

The city defines front-line essential workers in Phase 1b as:

  • Police, fire, and hazmat
  • People working in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps
  • Childcare/K-12 teachers/staff (public and private)
  • Food and agriculture (including veterinarians)
  • Manufacturing
  • Grocery store workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Mail carriers (USPS and private)
  • Officials needed to maintain continuity of government (including judges and public-facing judicial workers)

Norfolk says it will start to vaccinate the following groups within Phase 1b and will expand Phase 1b vaccination efforts once these groups are vaccinated:

  • Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  • Childcare/K-12 Faculty/Staff (public and private) and childcare providers
  • Anyone ages 65 and older

Phase 1a workers will also still be prioritized.

As of January 25, residents who meet the Phase 1a or 1b eligibility requirements can preregister for a vaccine by using this online form. The city encourages residents to preregister online. If you do not have access to a computer or need assistance, you can call 757-664-SHOT (7468) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Monday through Friday.

Voicemails should be returned within two business days.

Preregistering adds a person to a waitlist, but does not schedule them for a vaccine appointment. It could take four to eight weeks before a person on the waitlist is notified to schedule an appointment.

The Norfolk Department of Public Health and city ask residents not to use any shared links to register.

On Feb. 4, a Military Circle Mall vaccination site experienced issues because a registration link was shared with the public, although the link was only for specific people who had been notified it was their time to get a vaccine.

The vaccination clinics in Norfolk are not open to the general public.

Norfolk opened five recreation centers to help residents without computer access to receive in-person preregistering for the COVID-19 vaccine.

These recreation centers were open for this purpose, from February 10 through February 26, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day.

The city decided to permanently close the hands-on preregistration help at rec centers as of Feb. 26 because the number of residents seeking help steadily declined since last week when the state announced the Vaccinate Virginia website and call center, the city said.

Those who want more help can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to search for their information. 

Vaccinate Virginia can be accessed anytime online and by phone seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. you can get pre-registered for the vaccine by calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA.

Portsmouth Health Department

Portsmouth was the final Hampton Roads health district to release its plans to move to Phase 1b.

The Portsmouth Health Department said it would conduct COVID-19 vaccination clinics for Phase 1b priority groups beginning Jan. 26.

The city said Phase 1b includes police, fire and hazmat response personnel, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, childcare/K-12 teachers and staff, food and agriculture workers, manufacturers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, mail carriers (USPS and private), anyone age 65 and older, and those individuals 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions.

Phase 1a eligible individuals will also continue to be prioritized.

The Portsmouth vaccination clinics are not open to the public.

“I am elated that we have a new highly effective tool to prevent COVID. Our goal is to offer vaccination to our community in a fair and equitable manner”, said Dr. Lauren James, Portsmouth Health Director. “Once we have a large amount of the community vaccinated we hope that our businesses, schools and communities can re-open in a safe way.”

Vaccination planning teams are reportedly reaching out to employers that fall under Phase 1b, who will create a spreadsheet with their qualifying employees. From there, the employees will be scheduled for their vaccination through their employer, the city said.

Residents 65 years and older and those 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions should complete the online survey at this link. You can also email phd.info@vdh.virginia.gov to request an appointment.

Portsmouth’s COVID-19 vaccination hotline went online Tuesday, Feb. 2 to help those without reliable internet access navigate the COVID-19 vaccination process. Portsmouth residents who are currently eligible for the vaccine can call (757) 393-8585 between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to register for the vaccine and get questions answered.

Once you are registered, to help reduce wait times, the health department asks that you arrive no more than 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.

Three Rivers Health District

The Three Rivers Health District, which serves the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, entered vaccination Phase 1b the week of January 18.

Phase 1b includes first responders, child care and K-12 teachers, front line essential workers in manufacturing, food, and grocery, transit, and postal workers, but has also been expanded in this health district to include anyone 65 years of age or older and anyone ages 16-64 with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk from a coronavirus infection.

Riverside is currently vaccinating Riverside primary care patients 75 years of age and older. As additional Phase 1b vaccine appointments become available, Riverside will contact patients through their Riverside MyChart account or patients can call their Primary Care provider’s office for vaccine scheduling information. Riverside is posting weekly updates online at Riversideonline.com.

Eligible patients in the Bon Secours health care system will be contacted by Bon Secours and offered a vaccination opportunity.

The Three Rivers Health District has created a COVID-19 resource center hotline. You can call 804-824-2733 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays.

Virginia Beach Department of Public Health

The Virginia Beach Department of Health began administering COVID-19 vaccines to those in Virginia’s 1b vaccination classification Monday, Jan. 25.

Virginia Beach said vaccine sites are closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics and not open to the public.

People need to register ahead of time at www.vbgov.com/vaccinatevb starting on Monday, Jan. 25. Residents can contact the city’s 311 Citizen Services call center with any questions and for assistance with pre-registration.

Dial “311” within Virginia Beach city limits. Callers from outside the city limits can dial (757) 385-3111 to reach 3​11 Citizen Services.

As of March 5, Virginia Beach was working to transfer its registration information to the state pre-registration portal. The state data team was working to consolidate, clean, standardize, remove duplicates and upload data from multiple cities and counties to the statewide system.

Those with appointments should not arrive more than 15 minutes early. For more info about what to expect during your appointment — and information on things that could prevent you from getting a shot — check out the city’s page covering what you should know ahead of your appointment.

The city also asks those who have received links to register to not share those URLs with others. If multiple appointments are made through one link, they will not be legitimate.

“Although a confirmation email is received after scheduling an appointment using a shared link, this appointment is not legitimate. Your name will not appear on the vaccine appointment list and you will not be able to receive a vaccine,” the city said. “This is a software issue and the Virginia Department of Health is working on securing the links, but until then, please do not share your vaccine appointment email or link.”

“As vaccines become available for 1b, the health department will draw from that list and put it into the database that will send you an official invitation to be scheduled,” said Ed Brazle, Virginia Beach EMS chief.

Virginia Beach has mostly been giving out vaccines to 1a (health care workers, etc.) at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, though some teachers and others have gotten the vaccine as well. 

Phase 1a is still underway.

“We had slots that were not filled with the 1a people, so we went ahead and had some 1b people on standby and plugged them in. We’re going to use every vaccine that we have on hand,” Brazle said.

More than 7,000 employees for Virginia Beach City Public Schools are already scheduled to receive a vaccine.

Virginia Beach says it will move to other phases when more vaccines are available. Supply is currently limited, with Virginia getting only about 110,000 doses per week.

Western Tidewater Health District  

The Western Tidewater Health District, which serves Isle of Wight and Southampton counties and the cities of Franklin and Suffolk, said it will move into Phase 1b of vaccinations the week of January 25.

You’re part of the next group if:

  • You’re over 65, or have a preexisting condition
  • You’re a first responder, K-12 teacher, or daycare worker
  • You are homeless, a food service worker, public transit or mail carrier

“We are excited to move through the phases of our vaccination plan at a feverish pace,” said Dr. Lauren James, interim director of the Western Tidewater Health District.

Isle of Wight said it still doesn’t have have a definite answer when county residents can get the vaccine, but say they hope to see improvements in vaccine rollout soon.

Organizations that fall into the categories outlined in Phase 1b should email Will Drewery, district emergency manager at will.drewery@vdh.virginia.gov to gain access to the online scheduling portal.

A full breakdown of Phase 1B can be found here: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.

Citizens 65 and older who are unable to obtain vaccine through their healthcare provider or a pharmacy are asked to call one of the following numbers to make an appointment:

Suffolk (757) 514-4781
Isle of Wight (757) 279-3070
Franklin (757) 562-6109
Southampton (757) 653-3040

Those who can’t reach anyone when they call should leave a message.

Helpful links

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