STAUNTON — The Central Shenandoah Health District, which includes Bath County, is making plans to enter Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The health district is still in Phase 1a, which focuses on frontline healthcare workers and first responders.
“Our goal is to get as many people in the phased priority groups vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Laura Kornegay, director of the Central Shenandoah Health District.
The district spans more than 2,000 square miles across the Shenandoah Valley.
“Because of the differences in populations in the five counties and five cities that make up the district, when the district enters Phase 1b vaccines may reach some areas more quickly than others. We should also expect overlap in the phases as we work through the vaccination process,” Kornegay said.
The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are among the districts that were permitted by Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday to enter Phase 1b.
Kornegay said that as the availability of the vaccine increases, Virginia will move to the other phases.
“An exact timeline is not yet known, but some health districts have entered Phase 1b, which includes frontline essential workers, people age 75 and older, and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps,” she said.
Phase 1c will include other essential workers, people age 65 and older, people 16 and older with underlying medical conditions.
The complete definitions of Phase 1b and Phase 1c are available on the VDH Vaccine Page at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.
In December, the Central Shenandoah Health District began offering closed “point of dispensing” COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1a” priority groups.
Phase 1a is the first group eligible to receive the vaccine, and includes health system personnel with direct contact or a high risk of contact with COVID-positive patients.
Phase 1a also includes long-term care residents and staff that are being vaccinated through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
The district is currently in Phase 1a but is actively planning for Phase 1b. Information and progress will be posted on the district website at www.vdh.virginia.gov/central-shenandoah/.
Persons must register for a vaccine with the Central Shenandoah Health District.
“We are currently are not accepting walk-ins for the COVID-19 vaccine,” Kornegay said.
Virginians who do not fall into priority categories will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available.
Once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine.
People will be able to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy, primary care physician, federally qualified health center/free clinic, local health department, or another clinic that is participating as a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider.
The public will be able to see which groups are eligible and what phase Virginia is in by visiting www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.
In the meantime, Kornegay said it is important to remain vigilant in COVID-19 prevention practices.
“Continue taking steps to protect yourself and others, such as covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, staying at least six feet away from others, and avoiding social gatherings. We all must continue to take these steps even after getting the COVID-19 vaccine,” she said.
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