70,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are heading to 18 health care systems across Virginia

70,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are heading to 18 health care systems across Virginia.

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Over the next two days, 70,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are heading to 18 health care systems across Virginia, including VCU Health.

“It’s a strange combination of just immense excitement but so much work to be done, so there’s almost not time to feel that,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, Virginia Department of Health Deputy Commissioner for Population Health.

Gov. Ralph Northam welcomed one of the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a Bon Secours hospital in Richmond on Monday.

Gov. Ralph Northam welcomed one of the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a Bon Secours hospital in Richmond.
Gov. Ralph Northam welcomed one of the first shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a Bon Secours hospital in Richmond. (Source: Northam's Office)

Health care workers in COVID-19 units and nursing home residents are the first to get the vaccine. Dr. Forlano says shots in arms are expected this week.

“Now, there’s hard work to be done to actually get this vaccine into the arms of people who need it the most. So that work is ongoing right now,” said Dr. Forlano.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association says once the vaccine arrives, each hospital has to store and redistribute doses to other facilities within its system. Vaccine administration will likely happen over the next few days.

But even with a vaccine, Dr. Forlano says there are many unknowns, including if the vaccine prevents someone from spreading the virus. So for now, the recommendation for those who get a vaccine is to continue to wear a mask.

“Even for those people who are vaccinated, we still recommend that prevention strategies remain in play until we learn more about the real-world effectiveness of the vaccine,” said Dr. Forlano.

While it’s a moving target due to production demands, VDH says COVID-19 vaccines should be available to the general public in the commonwealth by the end of spring or early summer.

Facts about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

Virginia hopes to have 480,000 vaccine doses by year’s-end. VDH estimates there are about 500,000 people who fall into Group 1A.

The Centers for Disease Control will give recommendations on Group 1B by the end of the month.

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