Following a change in federal guidelines, Gov. Ralph Northam today announced that all residents age 65 and older are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. That means half of all Virginians may now receive the shots.
The challenge those residents—and state and local leaders—face is overcoming the logistical challenges of getting the available doses into arms.
As of this week, about 17,000 shots per day are being administered statewide. In Loudoun, the daily vaccination rate has climbed over 600.
“All the vaccine we are getting in, we are putting in arms,” said Loudoun County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) Thursday. “We have not wasted any vaccines at all. In fact, we had one case a couple of days ago where we had about five doses left over after we did our 1A first responders, and then we made a phone call to some of the 1B first responders so that we knew we didn’t waste any.”
As the vaccines rolled out in recent weeks, most shots have been administered by hospitals, local health departments, and long-term care centers. According to the state Department of Health, as of today fewer than 40,000 of the 243,000 doses administered statewide so far have occurred at doctor’s offices, pharmacies or other community health providers.
In addition to ramping up vaccine availability at those neighborhood outlets, state leaders now are looking to stand up fixed-site mass vaccination sites throughout the commonwealth. These would operate six to seven days a week and be supported by the National Guard, contracted vaccinators and local volunteer medical corps. Announcements about those operations are expected within the next week, according to Thursday’s presentation in Richmond.
The state goal is to reach at least 25,000 vaccinations per day in the short term and then expand to 50,000 per day.
Northam called the effort “the largest deployment of volunteers we have ever seen.”
“I look at this as a way to really pull Virginians together,” he said.
Many members of the Phase 1A and 1B priority groups may be enrolled for vaccination by their employers. Others should contact the Loudoun Health Department directly to get instructions. That can be done by sending an email that includes your name, organization and basis for inclusion in Phase 1A or 1B email@example.com; or by calling the county’s COVID-19 information line at 703-737-8300 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.