RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - After a rough start to vaccine rollout, State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says the Commonwealth is steadily improving.
During a tele-press conference on Friday, Avula says the state has currently administered more than 697,914 total doses of the vaccine.
“For about 24 hours we were at the bottom of that list out of 50 states, but we have steadily increased,” Avula said. “The last time I checked today we were at 21, and I think that number will continue to improve.”
This week the state added 105,000 new doses to its supply, but Avula says next week Virginians can expect that allotment from the federal government to increase by more than 15,000 doses.
“Just yesterday we received that...we will have the opportunity to do about 15-16% more doses next week. So we’re finalizing those numbers, but that is falling in line with what we’ve heard from the White House and it’s encouraging because it means we can get more people vaccinated,” Avula said.
Avula says there will also be additional changes to the way the vaccines will be distributed moving forward. As people wait to receive their second dose, Avula says moving forward the VDH has a plan to reallocate second dose inventory into first doses to vaccinate up to 40,000 more Virginians.
“We are still going to pull down every dose, but we are encouraging some providers to convert some of their first doses into second dose, and so what that means is that we just have to manage more effectively the doses that we pull down and just make sure no one gets shorted in the coming week for second doses, but it does allow us to get more people vaccinated now,” Avula said.
Avula says as people who have already been given their first shot wait three to four weeks for their second dose, the state can use the second doses of the vaccine still waiting to be used to inoculate those waiting to receive their first shot. If this is done, Avula says a greater effort will need to be made to ensure that those doses are replenished efficiently
“When we convert second doses to first doses we need to make sure we’re prepared to come behind that with two times that number,” Avula said. “For every dose you turn from a second to a first, you need two extra replacements, and that is going to require more active management on our (VDH) part.”
He adds that the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available are the same as the first doses, however, both are necessary need to be fully protected from COVID-19.
Avula says we are far from the finish line of completely vaccinating those in groups 1a and 1b.
“Any increase is welcome but it’s still not enough to significantly change the timeline. I think that it probably increases our rate of getting through all of 1a and 1b by a couple weeks at best,” Avula said.
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