RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Friday that select health districts will begin phase 1b vaccinations the week of January 11.
The shift to the next phase comes days after Governor Ralph Northam issued a directive to increase flexibility and to speed up vaccine distribution in Virginia.
According to Northam, Virginia’s short-term goal for vaccinations is 25,000 a day, and currently the state’s average is thousands less per day (about 14,000).
The number of people in priority group 1a — healthcare personnel and people living in long-term care — differs across geographic regions.
Many local health systems will remain in phase 1a, however, 11 health districts will begin gradually adding vaccination opportunities for the following groups: frontline essential workers, people age 75 and older, and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, or migrant labor camps.
Health officials did say in a statement released that all areas of the Commonwealth are expected to move to phase 1b before the end of January.
“This is an important step that will provide increased flexibility to health districts across the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Danny Avula, MD, MPH newly appointed COVID Vaccine Coordinator. “The Governor has made it very clear that the state should not be holding anyone back — if health districts are ready and able to begin phase 1b vaccinations, they must be able to do so.”
VDH says that overlap in vaccination groups is needed to continuing vaccinating people as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The following health districts will begin phase 1b the week of January 11:
- Cumberland Plateau
- Lord Fairfax
- Mount Rogers
- New River
- Prince William
- Roanoke County/Allegheny
Moving forward, local health districts will announce as they move into the next phase, which will also be available on the VDH COVID-19 Vaccine webpage.
“We are excited to begin vaccinating more people as we continue to work to put this pandemic behind us,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA.
“The number of calls to our VDH hotline and to our local health departments asking about vaccines is evidence that people want this protection. Our goal is to get shots into arms as quickly as possible. Vaccines are our best hope to get back to normal.”
Phase 1b is expected to take several weeks to months to completely vaccinate Virginians who fall into each group.
“The ability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available. Vaccine supply in the United States is still very limited. Currently, the federal government is allocating about 110,000 doses of vaccine to Virginia a week,” the statement continued.
“The amount of vaccine available in the United States will depend on the capabilities of the manufacturers to produce the vaccine safely and is expected to increase later gradually over the next months.”
To determine your local health department and to check your health district’s website for additional information, click here.
Click here for more information about Virginia’s phase 1b Guidance.