VDH working on next steps for COVID-19 vaccination plan

VDH working on next steps for COVID-19 vaccination plan

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As Virginia’s coronavirus case count continues to climb, the commonwealth’s preparations to distribute a vaccine are picking up.

“The timeline, I know it can be very frustrating to not know exactly when vaccines might become available,” VDH Division of Immunization Director Christy Gray said.

In October, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) submitted a draft “COVID-19 Vaccination Plan” to the Centers for Disease Control. The state has received feedback and is incorporating it into an updated plan.

“As more information comes around, becomes available and more vaccines get introduced, other considerations might arise, that plan is a living document and will continue to get updated as needed,” Gray said.

Overall, the plan would be to give it to the critical workforce first since there will likely be a vaccine shortage in the beginning.

″As vaccine gets developed and distributed we’re going to be able to get to herd immunity sooner than expected if those numbers hold," said Dr. Danny Avula, Richmond - Henrico Health Districts Director.

The draft also outlines key components for preparing and implementing the massive program across the entire commonwealth.

“In order to do that the logistical, operational and planning considerations are very complex and so the plan includes 15 different sections that go over many of the considerations that need to be taken into account in order for a campaign like this to be successful,” said Gray.

Virginia says it will take guidance from the CDC on which populations to give the vaccine and when. 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.

“These are all steps we can take that will be needed in order to bring this pandemic to an end,” said Gray.

In October, Governor Ralph Northam directed $22 million in federal CARES Act funding to the program. That’s to get through the end of the year. They’re still figuring out the funding for next year.

Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.