Virginia expands vaccination workforce to keep up with expected demand surge

Now that Gov. Ralph Northam has announced every Virginian over age 16 will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine by April 18, the commonwealth wants to ensure there are enough people available to administer the vaccinations.

On Friday, Northam announced recently-signed House Bill 2333 and Senate Bill 1445 to create a Virginia Volunteer Vaccinator Registry, consisting of volunteers who will be eligible to give the shots during the ongoing pandemic.

In addition to training to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, volunteers will have to either be, or have been, a qualified health care provider with a Virginia Department of Health license, in the past 20 years.

The new pool of vaccinators is in addition to those in the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, which is the volunteer program for the Virginia Department of Health.

Healthcare providers who are now authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia include, but are not limited to, dentists, dental hygienists, veterinarians, optometrists and health professions students enrolled in an accredited Virginia programs.

“Virginia is now administering an average of more than 70,000 of the COVID-19 vaccine each day and has given over 3.8 million shots to date,” Northam said, in a news release. “By further expanding our vaccinator workforce, we can build on this momentum and ensure we have additional vaccination capacity as supply increases and more individuals become eligible to receive the vaccine.”

The state says the initial supply of vaccine from Johnson & Johnson will not be disrupted in spite of recent news about millions of doses produced at a Baltimore plant being contaminated.

Dr. Danny Avula said at a news conference on Friday that next week’s doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — more than 200,000 in total, 124,000 of that to local health districts and mass vaccination sites and about 100,000 to pharmacies — won’t be affected by the mistake.

After that, Avula said, “I don’t yet know what that will mean for future weeks.” The company has said it’ll still be able to meet its production goals for April. Avula said he was hopeful of that, but that “15 million doses is a lot of doses.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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