Richmond struggles with low COVID-19 vaccination rates

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 3:07 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 at 8:19 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In the City of Richmond, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising over the last two weeks, but the vaccination rate isn’t moving much, it is still under 50%. Between convincing vaccine skeptics and preparing for a booster, Richmond health leaders have their plates full.

“Now we’re out in public, our kids are out with us, and so now we’re seeing a lot of pediatric infections,” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Richmond - Henrico Health Districts.

The health district, covering Richmond and Henrico, is mourning the loss of a child under the age of 10 to COVID-19. Officials said the child died this month.

“We are reminded that some of the consequences of COVID can affect even our, even our youngest, even our children. It’s critically important that we do because our kids can’t be vaccinated when they’re under 12, that we who can be vaccinated to do everything we can in the community,” said Dr. Viray.

The health department is working with Richmond Public Schools to contain COVID cases inside the classroom. With only summer school underway, the division has felt the effects of the virus, having to quarantine dozens of students and staff. Dr. Viray says each outbreak is different, and they’re keeping an eye on things daily.

“It’s hard to put a firm set of lines around it especially because so much of it depends on individual circumstances,” said Dr. Viray.

Starting in September, Richmond - Henrico Health Districts will add ongoing, smaller vaccination clinics at four locations. One is at the city health department downtown, another is at Henrico West Clinic. Two more will be added, one southside and one in eastern Henrico, pending location logistics.

Meanwhile, the positivity rate in the city is almost 12%. There has been a 67% increase in cases, and hospitalizations have more than doubled in the last two weeks.

January was the worst month for COVID here in Richmond across the board with cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The city isn’t there yet, but data is creeping closer and closer each day.

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