One of the most important functions of Virginia’s statewide preregistration system for COVID-19 vaccinations will be to assuage fears from Virginians who aren’t quite sure whether they have signed up to be notified when they are eligible to get their shots.
“There will be a confirmation on screen when you actually put your information in the form,” said Virginia Department of Health Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula, who is also director of the health departments of Richmond City and Henrico County.
“You will also get weekly reminders,” that you’re still in the queue, said Avula, in a Friday media briefing. Residents can check their status at any time.
Avula said the statewide site will provide a consistent sign-up format throughout the state, and consolidate data from local health district systems — some of which consisted of rudimentary sign-up software.
“What it likely will not be able to do is to tell folks how long a wait they may have, because that’s very individualized, based on the locality,” said Loudoun County Health Director David Goodfriend, who was briefed on some of the new site’s basic functions.
Goodfriend said he expects once the site is launched, state health officials will continue to tweak it, based upon public feedback.
Regardless of other functions, Goodfriend said the state site will address the concern of countless callers who are unsure of their preregistration status, after previous visits to numerous county and state health department websites.
Goodfriend said he is confident the state site will answer that recurring question: “Your preregistration survey did go through — you’re in the system.”
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Coronavirus vaccine FAQ: What you need to know
- Hanging around pharmacies, grocery stores in hopes of scoring leftover vaccine doses
Ahead of the Tuesday launch, VDH’s COVID site allows users to see in which phase of the vaccine rollout they will be eligible for a shot in the arm. Currently, phases 1a and 1b are eligible, which includes health care workers and those age 65 and older.
However, people in the upcoming phase 1c — other essential workers — can see where they stand, in terms of prioritization.
“There are a lot of folks who thought they had preregistered,” using the tool to look up eligibility, “but it actually was not,” the case, Goodfriend said.
Now, the state is uploading that data to the new preregistration database, he added.
While some have expressed anxiety that somehow their locally input information won’t appear in the statewide database, state and local officials have provided reassurance.
Goodfriend said local health departments will be able to check if residents are registered.
“We’ll have full access to all of our people’s registration in the statewide database, so we can be as responsive as we are now,” Goodfriend said.
In addition to the dashboard, the centralized system provides a statewide call center, with 750 call-takers speaking English and Spanish, as well as third-party access to translators in 100 languages.
This, Avula predicted, would help with questions of equity for people who don’t have easy internet access and who can’t jump onto a website first thing in the morning to snag an appointment.
Call takers will be able not just to take appointments but answer general questions about COVID-19, Avula said.
WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.