Richmond area health districts to begin Phase 1b vaccines

Richmond area health districts to begin Phase 1b vaccines

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Local health districts will be expanding their COVID-19 vaccination campaigns to include some Phase 1b frontline essential workers.

Phase 1b vaccinations will begin on Jan. 18, which will include frontline essential workers. Vaccination of Phase 1a populations will continue as the region opens up to Phase 1b.

The first three categories of Phase 1b frontline essential workers include:

  • Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  • Corrections and homeless shelter workers
  • Childcare/PreK-12 Teachers/Staff

VDH says it has a goal of administering 8,000 shots in the first week alone.

“We have three large regional events, coming up in this coming week... and then four events through our local health district,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of the Richmond City Health District.

Vaccines will be administered through a combination of regional mass vaccination events, as well as partnerships with various providers.

“VDH is continuing to work with pharmacies, hospital systems, and medical practices to establish the infrastructure to more quickly and effectively distribute available resources and vaccinate others who are part of 1b and beyond,” Dr. Alex Samuel, Director of Chesterfield Health District says.

Governor Ralph Northam believes the rollout will help boost the vaccination rate in the Commonwealth.

“We want to get as many shots into as many arms as we can, and that’s the way we’re going to get this pandemic behind us,” the governor said at a vaccination event on Wednesday morning.

But the timing isn’t soon enough for some Chesterfield teachers, who will be returning to the classroom in as little as three weeks.

“With vaccinations being so close, we should wait until staff have had the opportunity to be vaccinated before we send students back into the building because we know that’s the safest route moving forward,” said Austin Good, a teacher at Meadowbrook High School.

Matoaca High School teacher, Christine Melendez, pointed out the timing of the vaccinations would not be ideal before they go back on Feb. 1, given that the vaccine doses are meant to be taken weeks apart.

“Even if we do start vaccinating on Monday the 18th, they still would not receive the second dose until they’ve been almost two weeks in the classroom,” Melendez said.

If you live or work in Richmond City or Henrico County and think you may qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1a or Phase 1b, click here to fill out a COVID-19 interest form.

For all other local health districts, please take this simple online eligibility tool or call the VDH COVID Hotline: 1-877-ASK-VDH3. You can also call 804-205-3501 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) for more assistance.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.