Where are the vaccines? State vaccine coordinator says to expect delays

Where is the vaccine?

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Only 105,000 new doses of those coveted COVID-19 vaccines are making their way to the commonwealth per week. A drop in the bucket for a state with a population of over 8 million.

The need is so great that Virginia’s vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says the state now divvying the vaccine based on the population of localities.

“We know what percentage of the state population they have and then assigned a percentage of this week’s allotment to them,” Avula said.

During a telehealth press conference Friday afternoon, Avula says the VDH is now relying on local health departments as the emergency support function works to coordinate the vaccine response for their specific communities, which is why distribution differs so much between health districts and counties.

“Some of it’s going to happen through large-scale vaccinations, some of it’s going to happen through partnerships with pharmacies that focus on segments of the population,” Avula said. “A significant amount of this vaccine is being reserved for CVS and Walgreens for those long-term care facilities. They’re working as quickly as they can to get through all of the facilities on their list by the end of January, and it looks like we’re going to be very close to that target.”

But many of those facilities are facing delays. Some are going through outbreaks, and the vaccine can’t be administered until they’re under control.

Individuals in Phase 1a who weren’t vaccinated on the first go will continue to be prioritized, just as those in Phase 1b roll up their sleeves. But Phase 1b is so large that Avula says it may take an additional two to three months before they are completely inoculated.

”When you’re only getting a few thousand doses a week between hospitals, health department, providers and pharmacies - how do you do that in a way that even comes close to meeting demand?” Avula said. “The answer is you don’t, you can’t and understandably that has led to a great deal of confusion and frustration on the part of our public.”

As the rollout continues, Avula says he expects most of the state to be in Phase 1b, and by that time he says localities should have a clearer system to get people in place for vaccination.

“The goal really is this by next week local health departments will have on their local website... here are the upcoming vaccine opportunities,” Avula said.

Looking ahead, Avula says the plan for the state is to move more toward large scale vaccine event with assistance from the Virginia National Guard... those efforts are still in development, but he says we could expect that by the end of February.

If you would like to listen to the entire telehealth press conference you can do so HERE.

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