1 year later, progress still to be made with vaccine distribution in Virginia

Tuesday marks the one year anniversary of the COVID vaccine in Virginia.
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 9:53 AM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Tuesday, December 14, marked the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia. Doctors with UVA Health say the pace of discoveries with the vaccine is unlike anything they have ever seen, but there’s still more progress to be made.

“We most need science to help us,” Dr. Bill Petri said. “It’s really coming through, you know. Almost every week, there’s like something new.”

Even with all of the new details and changes, one thing remains constant: the actual content within the dose.

“This is the same vaccine that we had a year ago,” Petri said. “Essentially that vaccine came out, we’ve gone from the Wuhan strain to the European strain, to the alpha to the delta, and now omicron, and it still works. That’s a wonderful thing.”

More than 165,000 people in the Blue Ridge Health District have been fully vaccinated.

“In Albemarle County, 81% of the entire population has at least one dose, which is pretty incredible,” Ryan McKay with BRHD said. “And Albemarle County, in fact, has had one of the highest percentages of people vaccinated throughout the entire pandemic.”

There are still big gaps to fill, though, and there’s a push to go out to those rural areas.

“In January, we’re going to extend our hours at local health departments,” McKay said. “So we’ve been operating 12 to four for offering vaccine. And that’s really been limited to adults in boosters, and then we’re gonna expand it to everyone.”

Dr. Petri says one of the biggest obstacles ahead is the omicron variant: “It’s astonishing to see how quickly this spread in London. It wasn’t there a week ago, and now it’s 40% of all COVID cases in London. So we have to be prepared for this,” he said.

Being prepared now means having your first and second doses, along with a booster, according to UVA Health doctors.

“The Blue Ridge Health District has like plenty of vaccine, we’re not in a vaccine shortage anymore,” Petri said. “But your protection against going in the hospitals with omicron from having two doses of the Pfizer vaccine is only 70%. But you can boost that back up to 90%.”

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