RICHMOND — The Virginia Department of Health began implementing Phase 1b of its COVID-19 vaccination plan in the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts on Monday.
The Alleghany Health District includes Alleghany County and Covington.
The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are among 11 districts that are starting to gradually offer vaccines to groups included in Phase 1b.
Those groups include: frontline essential workers, people age 75 and older and people people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters or migrant labor camps.
All areas of the commonwealth are expected to move to Phase 1b by the end of January.
“This is an important step that will provide increased flexibility to health districts across the commonwealth,” said Dr. Danny Avula, who is Gov. Ralph’s Northam’s newly appointed COVID vaccine coordinator.
“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,” Avula said.
Other health districts moving to Phase 1b this week are: Alexandria, Arlington, Cumberland Plateau, Fairfax, Lenowisco, Lord Fairfax, Loudoun, Mount Rogers, New River and Prince William.
“We are excited to begin vaccinating more people as we continue to work to put this pandemic behind us,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver.
“The number of calls to our VDH hotline and to our local health departments asking about vaccines is evidence that people want this protection. Our goal is to get shots into arms as quickly as possible. Vaccines are our best hope to get back to normal,” Oliver said.
Moving forward, local health districts will make announcements as they move into Phase 1b. Information will also be available on the VDH COVID-19 Vaccine webpage. In addition, state officials are urging the public to visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/, for more information.
State officials say it may take weeks or several months to vaccinate Virginians who fall into Phase 1b.
The ability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available. Vaccine supply in the United States is still very limited. Currently the federal government is allocating about 110,000 doses of vaccine to Virginia a week.
Due to the limited supply of vaccine, the Virginia Department of Health will prioritize vaccinating essential workers in the following order.
— Police, fire and hazmat workers.
— Corrections and homeless shelter workers.
— Teachers, childcare workers and school staff.
— Food and agriculture, including veterinarians.
— Grocery store workers.
— Public transit workers.
— Mail carriers.
— Officials needed to maintain continuity of government.
The amount of vaccine available in the United States will depend on the capabilities of the manufacturers to produce the vaccine safely and is expected to increase later gradually over the next months.
For more information about Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.
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The Virginian Review has been serving Covington, Clifton Forge, Alleghany County and Bath County since 1914.