The Virginia Department of Health has announced its priorities for COVID-19 vaccination, as well as plans to begin distributing and administering the vaccine before the end of the year. And local health officials are urging Loudouners to be patient, stay calm, and stay safe.
“Virginia has made clear its commitment to ensuring vaccine is distributed in a manner that is fair, ethical, equitable and transparent,” stated Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend. “Loudoun will adhere to the state’s guidelines that focus on those who are at the greatest risk of severe illness and those who are at the greatest risk of being exposed to the virus; this is the right thing to do while vaccine supplies are limited.”
With the first doses of the vaccine expected in the coming weeks, the Loudoun County Health Department published a guide of things to know about the vaccine.
First, Virginia has adopted recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the first vaccinations will go to health care workers and long-term care facility residents. Those priorities are meant to use the first doses of the vaccine in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes harm. The state is expecting to receive about 480,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of December.
And the safety of that vaccine remains a top priority for health officials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will approve only vaccines that have passed rigorous standards for use in the U.S., they said. Clinical trials are ongoing evaluating potential COVID-19 vaccines with thousands of study participants. Monitoring continues after approval to continue watching for possible side effects.
The vaccine will be free. And eventually, the Health Department advised, there will be enough doses for everyone as pharmaceutical companies ramp up production. But because early vaccine testing has focused on adults, the vaccine may not at first be recommended for young children.
And while the vaccine is a key step to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, health officials urged people not to let up on other COVID-19 precautions. That includes covering your mouth and nose with a face covering when in public; washing hands often; staying at least 6 feet away from others; staying home when sick; and avoiding crowds of people, parties at peoples’ homes and other gatherings.
Even after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, you may not be protected for an additional month—after receiving the booster dose—and your body has time to develop protective antibodies.
And, health officials once again reminded people to get their flu vaccine, as protecting yourself and others from the seasonal flu can help prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed.
The county government and health department will announce when the vaccine becomes available to the general population in Loudoun. Sign up to receive alerts at loudoun.gov/coronavirus.