Gov. Northam announces $22 million will go towards COVID-19 vaccination program in Virginia

Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 2:49 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is getting together a plan to distribute a coronavirus vaccine, once one is available.

Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday $22 million in federal CARES Act money will go into a statewide program to make sure people have access.

Northam’s announcement helps provide funding for VDH’s vaccination preparation and planning through the end of the year.

“Our vaccine plan assumes a phase in approach assuming that there will be initially limited vaccine and then as more vaccine is manufactured the supply would increase and we could expand that supply to more of the population,” said Christy Gray, VDH Division of Immunization Director.

The plan would be to give it to the critical workforce first. That includes health care workers and others deemed essential along with people working in long-term care facilities.

The draft plan outlines key components for preparing and implementing the massive program.

“If you plan for everything you know. You plan for the worst and expect the best. Our plan is, the response to COVID-19 just like everything COVID-19, is very complex,” said Gray.

State health officials are working to make sure the vaccine is distributed equitably by also coordinating with commercial partners in Virginia.

VDH estimates the entire vaccination program will cost about $120 million.

“We expect that plan to continue to be living document throughout the course of this campaign,” said Gray.

The Centers for Disease Control is currently reviewing the state’s draft vaccination plan. It was submitted earlier this month for feedback.


Governor Ralph Northam announced $22 million from the CARES Act funding will be used to create a statewide program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines when such vaccines are approved for public use.

The $22 million allocations of CARES Act dollars will support the Virginia Department of Health’s vaccination preparation and planning through the end of 2020. The Commonwealth will identify additional sources of funding to continue to support the vaccination program in 2021.

The state’s draft vaccination plan was submitted to the CDC earlier this month.

Several companies are working to create COVID-19 vaccines, which are expected to be finalized and approved for distribution in the coming months.

A mass vaccination program such as this requires significant advance planning for:

  • Purchases of equipment
  • Support for local health districts
  • Staff to manage the program
  • Warehousing medical supplies
  • Communicating with the public

“We look forward to the day that a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is available for public use so that we can get closer to living normal lives,” Governor Northam said. “We want to be ready to help Virginians get that vaccine as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible.”

The plan outlines key components for preparing and implementing a COVID-19 vaccination program including:

  • Assumptions, variables, and scenarios that can impact vaccine planning
  • Measures to identify and estimate critical populations and establish vaccine priority groups
  • Measures for provider recruitment, enrollment, and training
  • Process for vaccine allocation, ordering, distribution, inventory management, and reporting doses administered
  • Guidelines for appropriate vaccine storage and handling
  • Methods for second dose reminders to ensure compliance with vaccine dosing intervals (most COVID-19 vaccines require two doses separated by 21 or 28 days) and achieve optimal vaccine effectiveness
  • Systems for vaccine safety monitoring
  • Procedures for vaccination program monitoring, including online dashboards
  • Efforts to build confidence and inform the public about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, working with trusted community partners

The Virginia Department of Health estimates the vaccination program will cost approximately $120 million.

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