RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Dr. Danny Avula, who has overseen Virginia’s vaccination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, has stepped down from his position.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Avula, who was named state vaccination coordinator a year ago, said he has taken on other responsibilities in the Virginia Department of Health and returned to his position as director of the Richmond City and Henrico County health districts. Avula said the job switch was his decision.
Christy Gray, the Virginia Department of Health’s Director of the Division of Immunization, will now oversee vaccinations in Virginia.
When Avula was tapped by Gov. Ralph Northam to lead the vaccination effort, he made a three-month commitment. Avula said he ended up staying on for much longer and began transitioning out of the role during the fall. Recently, he has assumed the title of state vaccination liaison, focusing on partner development and media relations.
A year ago, Virginia was behind other states in vaccine distribution. Now Virginia is ranked ninth in percentage of residents fully vaccinated.
“I think Virginia has done a phenomenal job – our vaccination numbers certainly support that,” Avula said. “I’d love to see higher numbers in our pediatric population, and I think the presence of omicron will drive some more uptake there.”
As of Thursday, 5.8 million Virginians have been fully vaccinated, or 68%. Among them, 2 million have received a booster.
Among children ages 5 to 11, 33% have received at least one dose, and 71% of adolescents ages 12-15 have done so.
Avula’s job change was never announced by the health department or Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration.