Chesterfield health director addresses COVID-19 vaccine concerns

Chesterfield health director addresses COVID-19 vaccine concerns

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Chesterfield Health District gets 4,525 COVID-19 vaccine doses per week.

It’s a really small number considering the district serves not only Chesterfield County, but also Powhatan County and Colonial Heights.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity for, I would say, improvements. So we are in this process of literally moving from creating our own pre-registration system on the fly,” said Dr. Alexander Samuel, Chesterfield County Health District Director.

Dr. Samuel says there’s a lot to be learned from the wonky rollout of COVID-19 vaccines across the state and in his own backyard.

“That’s not something we take lightly nor was it something that we envisioned would be as much as a challenge as it has been,” said Dr. Samuel.

With very few vaccine doses, Dr. Samuel says it’s going to take time to move through the list. But complicating that, the health district switched to a manual notification system due to people sharing those appointment registration links and bumping those wanting a second dose to the back of the line. It’s a flaw in the software.

“Resulting in us literally having to create the second dose pods by calling individuals one by one, contacting them in different ways one by one. Repeatedly contacting them to make sure that we get in touch with them and scheduling, literally filling them into the PODs,” said Dr. Samuel.

Chesterfield Health District has held 19 vaccine clinics at Chesterfield fairgrounds, serving between 400 and 500 people each time.

Half of each weekly shipment goes to those aged 75 and above, or 65 and above with a health condition. The other half goes to some essential workers like police officers and teachers.

Dr. Samuel also says additional clinics will be available as details are ironed out.

“Placed in areas that target or allow access for individuals who might not have easy access to transportation,” said Dr. Samuel.

Starting March 1, Dr. Samuel says the process should be much smoother in the health district. He says they were just not expecting to move at this pace. They are also working on improving the district’s website.

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