RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Dr. Anthony Fauci and Gov. Ralph Northam met with Virginia Interfaith Leaders and health and diversity experts to discuss the COVID-19 vaccine.
The meeting took place on Jan. 8 in a virtual event co-sponsored by the governor’s office, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), VCU Massey Cancer Center, and faith leaders from the ‘Facts and Faith Fridays’ group.
One of the goals of the panel was to stress the importance of getting vaccinated, particularly in communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Fauci says he is reaching out to churches to help get the message across that vaccines are safe.
“We’ve got to get the overwhelming majority of the United States population vaccinated including and I might say even specifically Black and Brown people,” Fauci said. “When you get up there and say to your Brethren and your brothers and sisters who come to your church that it’s important for you to get vaccinated, that means a lot.”
Fauci says the nation may only be months away from widespread vaccinations when anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one.
“By April we start open-season, anybody can get vaccinated and we can vaccinate effectively may June, July, August,” Fauci said. “It’s a big if, but if we can get the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated I think we can start approaching a reasonable degree of normality towards the mid-fall of 2021.”
Fauci’s prediction largely depends on the effectiveness of vaccine rollout, which has been slower than expected. Northam says he’s expecting distribution of the vaccine to ramp up in the commonwealth very soon.
“We expect to see our weekly vaccine allocation ramp up as production increases this week. I announced an initial goal of 25,000 vaccinations a day and we expect to increase that goal as we increase vaccine supply,” Northam said.
Northam adds that Richmond-Henrico Health DIstrict Director Dr. Danny Avula will largely be put in charge of those efforts.
During the panel, health leaders also announced plans to expand distribution passed frontline healthcare workers.
“We are planning on making an announcement very soon about our plans to allow local health departments to move in to plan 1b as they are ready,” State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver said. “These are law enforcement, correctional facility workers because of the importance of our schools... we feel that child care workers and teachers are also on that list.”
Fauci says before the year’s end the nation could see at least four more viable COVID-19 vaccines from the companies like AstraZeneca, Janssen, Novavax, and Sanofi.
Faith leaders in attendance were able to submit questions for the Q&A panelists to address during the session.
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