Gov. Northam appoints Dr. Avula to oversee COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Gov. Northam appoints Dr. Avula to oversee COVID-19 vaccine rollout

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam has appointed Richmond-Henrico Health Director to oversee the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Northam made the announcement during a briefing on Wednesday when discussing vaccination efforts in the commonwealth.

The state announced a vaccination goal of getting the shot into the arms of 14,000 people per day. The next goal would be 25,000 per day, but that would currently outpace the current supply. However, health officials are hopeful for increased shipments.

Northam’s administration will also implement a “use it or lose it” policy that if providers are not vaccinating at an appropriate speed, they will lose the remaining doses and they will be moved elsewhere.

The next group to be vaccinated in Group 1B will be people 75 years of age or older, along with essential workers which include teachers, daycare providers, first responders, food and agricultural workers, manufacturing workers, grocery store workers, and public transit workers. People living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps will also be part of Group B.

The goal is to start Group 1B’s vaccinations by the end of the month.

As the state receives more doses, the Virginia National Guard will provide logistical support and help local health departments will administering vaccines.

“Getting Virginians vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to end this pandemic, rebuild our economy, and move our Commonwealth forward,” said Northam. “By setting clear goals and appointing Dr. Avula to spearhead our vaccination program, we will have a clear vision of how this effort—the largest public vaccination campaign in modern history—is progressing. I plan to get vaccinated when my turn comes, and I encourage Virginians to do the same.”

As for additional mitigation efforts and restrictions, Northam said he is not ruling anything out and will be looking at the post-holiday bump. If there is one - with the way the number of cases already are - Northam said he will have no choice but to increase restrictions across the state.

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