RICHMOND, Va. (WDVM) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) confirmed Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement regarding open eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine starting on April 18 during its Friday update from vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula.
After the announcement, some were left wondering if Northern Virginia would be able to move to phase two as quickly as the rest of the state. On Friday, Avula said the region is receiving a significant increase in vaccine supply, allowing it to move to the next phase with the rest of the state.
“We are really aggressively shifting allocation and we’ve done that over the last two weeks and will continue to over the next two weeks to ensure that every district can get through its phase one demand by April 17,” said Avula during the press conference.
In regard to vaccination sites, pharmacies are expected to receive an uptick in vaccine supply after the Biden Administration announced a goal for 90% of Americans to be five miles from a vaccination site.
“1/3 of our doses will be coming in from federal retail pharmacy programs… So we will see a big bump in that with the Johnson & Johnson a little over 100,000 doses coming to federal retail pharmacies,” explained Avula.
Although Johnson & Johnson discarded 15 million doses this week due to “mixing issues,” said Avula, VDH still expects to receive a significant amount next week.
“Which is good news because that’s over 200,000 doses that we were expecting and that we had ordered and will be coming in next week,” stated Avula.
VDH doesn’t know what the Johnson & Johnson shipments will look like for the weeks following, but the federal government believes this setback won’t impact its target for April.
As for COVID case numbers, Virginia’s cases are not the downward trend the health department has hoped for.
“The national data around COVID is a little bit concerning, we’ve seen about a 20% increase in cases nationally, that has not been the case in Virginia, it’s been a plateau with a couple of bumps here and there,” said Avula.
With an increase in people being vaccinated and a decrease in cases, Avula seemed optimistic about the state continuing to open this summer.
Next week, VDH will receive 124,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson, 112,000 first doses of Phizer and 86,000 doses of Moderna in addition to pharmacy supply from the government.
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