The plan to vaccinate all Virginians is fluid and a moving target. That is because vaccine inventory is limited (at a global, national, state, and regional level), and the logistics behind distributing the vaccine hasn’t been a seamless process. Also, as is the case with any high demand product, supply is limited.
On the bright side — a study by QuoteWizard ranked the Commonwealth of Virginia most likely to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, as compared to all states across the country. These predictions to estimate vaccination rates were supported by the current rate of adults getting vaccinated, accessibility to healthcare, as well as public opinion.
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Virginia’s rate of having age-appropriate vaccines is 46%, which is ranked as the seventh highest in the United States. The Commonwealth is trending up in this category too, as it had a 9.5% improvement in adult vaccinations over the last five years.
Adam Johnson, the study’s Senior Research Analyst, explained, “Especially this year with COVID-19, we’ve been very focused on the economic factors and impacts that COVID-19 has had on our healthcare systems.”
Ralph Northam, the Governor of Virginia (who is also a physician), said in an interview with PBS, “We’re confident that, by early to mid-summer, all Virginians will have access to the vaccination, which is really encouraging news. There’s finally some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, and we’re all really looking forward to that.”
Gov. Northam elaborated during an interview with NPR, “Well, initially, they’re looking at 70,000 doses. We have 8 million Virginians. So – and that’s why we will be going to those that are most susceptible – our health care workers and also those individuals that work and live in our long-term care facilities.
And then we’ll go into phase two, which will be a lot of frontline workers – for example, teachers, food preparers, those types of things. And then phase three will be the general population and hopefully by early to midsummer have everybody in Virginia vaccinated.”
Local health districts across the state are working as fast as possible to vaccinate eligible Virginians who qualify within phases 1a and 1b. Because the vaccine supply is limited, it will take some time to complete the initial groups.
As of January 2021, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the vaccine is currently designated for the following groups:
- 1a: Healthcare Workers & Long-Term Care Residents
- 1b: Frontline Essential Workers, Persons Aged 65 Years and Older
Correctional Facilities, Homeless Shelters, Migrant Labor Camps, and Persons Aged 16-64 years who have a high-risk medical condition or disability that amplifies their risk of severe illness due to COVID-19.
Because there is no way to know exactly how long it will take to complete vaccinating through the 1b group, there is not an official start date to begin phase 1c (during this phase, vaccines will be extended to additional essential workers).
Below are some commonly asked questions as it relates to getting vaccinated from COVID-19 in Virginia.
How do I register for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Health districts at a local level are creating specific plans for local registration, including the ability to register online in advance for a vaccination. The VDH reports that they are investing in technology improvements in order to facilitate this process. Check your county’s local health department website for more information.
Which of the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines does Virginia have access to?
The FDA has authorized emergency use of two vaccines so far — the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) endorses both vaccines. Virginia receives shipments of both vaccines on a weekly basis, which are being used to vaccinate local residents who qualify in phases 1a and 1b. A number of other pharmaceutical companies are involved in phase 3 trials, such as Johnson & Johnson, so the hope is that other FDA-approved vaccines will become available in the future.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine free or does it need to be filled through insurance?
The vaccine is being offered to all residents at no out-of-pocket cost. Any applicable charges will either be handled by insurance companies, or by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund.
If I receive the COVID-19 vaccine, do I still need to wear a mask and practice social distancing?
Yes. At this time, information is limited on how effective the COVID-19 vaccine is at lowering the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, as well as how long it provides protection. So, if you receive the first or both doses of the vaccine, you are asked to keep following recommended protocols to protect not only yourself but protect your community.
Some of the prevention measures include wearing a mask that securely covers your nose and mouth, not getting any closer than six feet apart from people, staying away from crowds, particularly when inside, and wash/sanitize your hands regularly.