Northam responds to COVID-19 vaccine, says immediate distribution to health care workers, long-term care facilities in Virginia

Richmond

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens as he prepares to speak to a group of volunteers to distribute supplies at health equity community event Tuesday May 12, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Ralph Northam took to social media following the approval of the nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine — set to arrive in states Monday morning.

In response to the news, Northam said via Twitter that state and health officials have been preparing since the spring.

“We expect to receive our first allotment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the next 24 to 48 hours, and will immediately begin distribution to our health care workers and long-term care facilities,” he tweeted Saturday morning.

According to the Associated Press, the first shipments are expected to leave Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Michigan via truck and then be flown to regional hubs around the country. 

Initially, about 3 million shots are expected to be shipped nationwide. 

The recommendation from a panel advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is that health workers and nursing home residents are the priority, and states seem to be following this suggestion.

“A similar number of shots will be held back for those recipients’ second dose, which is needed for full protection from COVID-19,” according to the Associated Press.

As for who is next in line, each state will have “broad discretion” over who will get the vaccine. 

NewsNation Now is reporting that some hospitals and healthcare workers are rehearsing the coronavirus vaccine delivery, practicing everything from delivery and circulation to timing and storage.

Hospitals in Hampton Roads are also preparing. Both Sentara and Riverside hospital systems are expected to receive the first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The two hospital systems have also purchased the ultra-cold freezers the vaccine requires for storage and both are training pharmacists and nurses who will handle and administer the vaccine.

The news of the vaccine comes after the Virginia Department of Health reported 4,177 more new COVID-19 cases Saturday — the second-highest daily increase reported since the pandemic began also marking eight days straight of case counts reaching above 3,300.

Read more about FDA approval, distribution locations, and possible storage challenges here.


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