Virginia health officials warn about winter COVID cases, encourage vaccination

Omicron is on the rise in Virginia, and health officials are more focused than ever on encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

Over the last two weeks, the omicron variant has accounted for 76% of all COVID-19 cases across the commonwealth, putting Virginia over the national average of around 73%.

“What we’ve seen the last two weeks is a steady increase in cases, and we expect that to continue into the winter. Our teams are continuing to watch that data,” said Dr. Danny Avula, who oversees vaccination efforts across Virginia.

While more statewide vaccination sites have opened, creating more access in rural areas, officials are encouraging residents to get the booster shot.

“We’ve seen an uptick in people’s interest right after the Thanksgiving holiday, and that’s continued,” he said. “Full vaccination is good, but we really need a boosted dose to increase protection against this variant.”

Avula said about 29% of 5- to 11-year-olds have gotten the shot.

“I would’ve guessed we would be at about 35% at this point, so we are definitely leaning into our outreach effort,” Avula said.

For people preparing to travel for the holidays, he said taking extra precautions to stay safe should remain a priority.

“Get tested on your way into larger family gatherings and, ideally, on your way out. That will help us identify disease and contain the spread that will no doubt be happening over the next month or so.”

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.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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