PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – As of Jan. 26, all Hampton Roads health districts have moved to Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The Portsmouth Health Department announced last Friday that it would begin closed “point of dispensing” (POD) clinics Tuesday, specifically for the Phase 1b priority group and by appointment only.
10 On Your Side confirmed with the health department Tuesday morning that they did in fact move into Phase 1b. According to a Facebook post by the Portsmouth Health Department, they were one of the last cities to receive the Moderna vaccine, which is why other localities are further along in the vaccination process.
The 1b group includes police, fire and hazmat, those living and working in 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, anyone age 65 and older, and people 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions.
Portsmouth Public Schools confirmed all school division employees will receive their first COVID-19 shot on Feb. 3 and Feb. 10. Division employees are scheduled to receive their second dose on March 3 and March 10.
Officials with Portsmouth Police and Portsmouth Fire confirmed their employees have started to get vaccinated. According to Portsmouth Police officials, they are not making the vaccine mandatory for personnel, however, they say they are working to get as many people on their team vaccinated as soon as possible.
Essential employees such as teachers, postal workers and grocery store workers will be scheduled through their employers. The health department says it has vaccination planning teams currently coordinating with employers in Phase 1b.
Portsmouth is also still providing the COVID-19 vaccine to residents in Phase 1a.
The COVID-19 vaccine is currently not available to the general public. The clinics in Portsmouth are not public events.
If you are 65 years and older or you have a high risk medical condition, please complete the online survey at this link. This is the preferred pre-registration method, but you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an appointment. The city provided a phone number to call, but in a Facebook post Monday asked residents not to call that number.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and the Western Tidewater health districts entered Phase 1b Monday, while the Hampton and the Peninsula health districts started last week.
Virginians who do not fall into priority phases will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available.
Health officials encourage everyone to continue to wear a face covering, wash their hands often and keep 6 feet away from others.