The director of Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination program on Friday outlined a jump in vaccine doses, saying that after last week’s winter weather delays have passed, the state is “churning it out.”
Dr. Danny Avula said at a news conference that the increase in vaccine doses will include:
- 180,000 first vaccine doses of Moderna and Pfizer, starting next week;
- 130,000 second vaccine doses of Moderna and Pfizer, starting next week;
- 52,000 vaccine doses from eight pharmacy partners.
He also said that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is pending FDA approval, would add another 69,000 doses, and the state is planning on how to give them out.
CVS began administering vaccines earlier this month through a partnership with the federal government, and several other pharmacies began this week.
Avula said that the other pharmacies used their own scheduling system this week, because it took time to import the state’s list into the pharmacies’ systems, and “it’s better that it goes to somebody than nobody.” Starting next week, they will be using the state’s preregistration list.
Albertsons, which operates Safeway, and CVS are using their own systems.
Walmart, which has been setting up vaccination sites in communities rather than in their stores, will be opening a site in Prince William County next week.
Avula said that people who sign up for vaccination appointments can be contacted by pharmacies, local health departments or the Virginia Department of Health call center, so he urged those who have preregistered to answer their phones, even if they don’t know the number.
Residents who have already preregistered for the vaccine through their localities can expect their information to be merged into the statewide preregistration system, but to “go ahead and enter your information again” in the state system.
Fairfax County is not participating in the state system.
Avula also reiterated that the vaccine is free, and if a pharmacy asks for a resident’s health insurance, it is just so they can bill the insurance for administration fees. However, if a resident doesn’t have health insurance, they can still receive the vaccine at no cost.
Avula said that as more vaccine doses become available, the challenge would shift from finding doses to convincing people to take them.
Avula reemphasized the safety of the vaccines, saying that about 10% of the population have experienced side effects such as fever and aches after receiving the second dose. This is normal for all types of vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine, he said.
He added that less than 1% of the population have had an allergic reaction to the vaccine.
The target rate to reach herd immunity in Virginia is 75% of the adult population in the state, or 5 million people, Avula said. He added that it would be “realistic” to get to 5 million first doses by the end of June.
He predicted Virginia will get through phase 1b by the third week of April.
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