COVID-19 vaccinations for Va. essential workers start Monday
11 health districts will begin vaccinating teachers and other workers
On Monday, 11 Virginia health districts will begin COVID-19 vaccinations of “frontline essential workers,” including police, teachers and grocery store workers, the Virginia Department of Health announced Friday afternoon.
Some regions will continue vaccinations of priority group 1a, which includes frontline health care providers and employees and residents of long-term care facilities. But the following health districts will move into the second phase of inoculations, for essential workers and others in priority group 1b, the week of Jan. 11:
- Arlington County
- Cumberland Plateau (Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties)
- Fairfax County
- Lenowisco (Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the city of Norton)
- Lord Fairfax (Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren counties and Winchester)
- Mount Rogers (cities of Bristol and Galax and counties of Bland, Carroll, Grayson, Smyth, Washington and Wythe)
- New River (Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski counties and Radford)
- Prince William County
- Roanoke County/Allegheny (Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke counties and the cities of Covington, Roanoke and Salem)
The announcement comes after Gov. Ralph Northam told hospitals, local health departments and districts, and other vaccination locations across the state “to empty those freezers and get shots in arms.” As of Jan. 6, only 116,247 doses of Moderna and Pfizer Inc. COVID vaccines had been administered in the state, out of 481,550 received. Northam warned that if facilities hold on to doses and don’t administer them promptly, they’ll receive fewer doses as more come in from the pharmaceutical companies — a “use it or lose it” model.
Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico County health departments and the state’s newly named vaccine coordinator, said in a statement Friday, “This is an important step that will provide increased flexibility to health districts across the commonwealth. The governor has made it very clear that the state should not be holding anyone back — if health districts are ready and able to begin Phase 1b vaccinations, they must be able to do so.”
The VDH COVID-19 vaccine page will be updated as more health districts move into Phase 1b, according to VDH.
In addition to frontline essential workers, group 1b includes people age 75 or older and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps. The following employees are included:
- Police, fire and hazmat responders
- Corrections and homeless shelter workers
- Child care, K-12 teachers and other school staff
- Food and agriculture (including veterinarians)
- Grocery store workers
- Public transit
- Mail carriers (USPS and private)
- Officials needed to maintain continuity of government
Virginia has about 500,000 people in group 1a, which started receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in mid-December, and about 1.5 million in group 1b, Northam said this week. VDH anticipates it will take “several weeks to months” to vaccinate Virginians who fall into group 1b; currently, the state is receiving about 110,000 doses of the two vaccines each week, and all recipients require two shots to be fully inoculated.
Phase 1c, which will follow the second phase, includes people in these occupations:
- Information, technology and communication
- Housing construction
- Water and wastewater
- Transportation and logistics
- Legal services
- Public safety (including engineers)
- Other public health workers
Northam anticipates that all 8.5 million Virginia residents will have access to vaccination by the summer.
As of Friday, 148,909 doses have been administered statewide, and 6,848 people have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the state has seen significant spikes in COVID-19 cases and deaths in recent weeks. The state has surpassed 5,000 new cases a day the past three days, and since New Year’s Eve, one person in Virginia has died each hour. Since March 2020, the state has recorded 5,312 deaths and 387,917 cases.
Virginians can find out more information about vaccination schedules by visiting their health district’s website, available here.