Virginia Health Department looking to get more efficient with vaccine distribution, nursing homes now getting doses

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — As the number of COVID cases continues to climb, the nation’s vaccine distribution appears to be crawling.

As of Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Health’s daily dashboard shows the commonwealth has received 285,725 vaccine doses. So far, 54,295 have actually been administered — that’s 19%.

The VDH held a virtual briefing Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. to discuss vaccine distribution in the commonwealth.

VDH Director of Immunization Christy Gray told reporters on Wednesday that she expects more people have actually received shots and the providers just haven’t put them in the system.

“We are pleased with our progress, but we have a long way to go and I think we will continue to get more efficient,” Gray said. “Dealing with new systems and operations at this scale, it’s expected to be slower at the beginning but we are expecting to increase our efficiency over time.”

For the last two weeks, first responders and civilian and military health care workers have received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. EMS and other frontline health workers are in the 1a prioritization for vaccines, based on CDC guidance. Other health workers and long-term care residents and staff are also in this 1a group. Future phases 1b and 1c include essential workers and high-risk adults.

There are thousands of shots sitting with Walgreens and CVS. The pharmacies have partnered with the federal government to vaccinate those in long-term care facilities. Virginia had to give some of its allotted doses to supply the program in the commonwealth. VDH was not able to give WAVY an exact number Wednesday afternoon.

Pharmacy workers will visit 1,442 facilities to vaccinate residents and staff.

On Tuesday, WAVY reported Virginia Beach EMS and fire crews received the Moderna shot.

More than 41,700 Virginians in total have been vaccinated so far.

As for the next priority groups, Gray said there’s no date in mind or specific number of shots to be given in group 1a before moving on to the next group.

Virginia is finalizing recommendations now for exactly who all will make up the next priority groups, 1b and 1c. Final approval is expected later this week.

“This is a tough, unprecedented public health effort all around that we are all trying to work together to make happen,” Gray said.

This comes as NBC News reports that the overall vaccination distribution in the U.S. is off to a slow start.

Operation Warp Speed planned to have 20 million does to states by the end of the year. It’s a goal it will miss by millions, as about 2 million Americans have received their initial doses.

“It’s only been 15 days since the first vaccine were given, so things will evolve, they will optimize over the next week or so, and you will see millions and millions more vaccines,” explained Admiral Brett Giroir, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary.

Virginia missed out on about 100,000 expected doses early on due to logistical errors.

President-elect Joe Biden is criticizing the slow pace. “The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind,” said Biden.”But as I long feared and warned the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should.”


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