Virginia Tech hosts COVID-19 vaccine rollout conversation

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 10:28 PM EST
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -Community leaders at Virginia Tech and throughout the New River Valley met Friday night to talk more about what the COVID-19 vaccine rollout will look like. This comes as classes are set to begin next week.

Vaccine efforts extend well beyond the campus community. Students are not eligible for the vaccine until phase two of the rollout unless they are members of earlier groups like first responders or working with elderly people who are high risk of contracting the virus.

“It’s not just about Virginia Tech, it’s the community and the community response,” said President Dr. Tim Sands.

They are efforts officials on Friday night’s community update are hopeful can expedite administering the COVID-19 vaccine.

“That first does is really what starts to confer that short-term immunity an that booster dose is what we’re looking at for more long-term immunity,” said New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell.

Bissell went into great detail about the logistics of pulling off a two-dose vaccine, keeping the focus on the first dose.

“If I did every second dose on schedule that would mean cutting the number of new doses I’m doing in half,” Bissell said. “I think people need to understand that and we need to have a little bit of flexibility there.”

This means not everyone will get the second dose on the exact first day they can. Logistically, the NRV wants to get as many people vaccinated with their first dose as possible to start creating herd immunity.

“Some immunity is better than no immunity,” Bissell said. “I wish it were as easy as just drawing the vaccine up and putting it into arms. It’s not as easy as people think it is to just getting it out there.”

Virginia Tech has tripled its efforts with case management to get information and answer questions as quickly as possible according to Assistant VP for Emergency Management Mike Mulhare.

“We learned several lessons in the first semester and our intent is to make the best of what can be a difficult situation for those students that find themselves in quarantine or isolation,” Mulhare said.

One of the biggest changes with quarantine and isolation space is the university has decreased the amount of time required to stay there from 14 to 10 days. This is based on newer CDC guidance.

“This is our time, this is an all hands on deck kind of situation and I would really love to see us use the challenges of the pandemic to actually be the catalyst to bringing this community closer together and really solving some of the broader issues in this country.,” said Blacksburg Police Chief Anthony Wilson.

Because there are so many logistics to help the process move smoothly, the health district is in constant need of volunteers. They are hopeful students will want to take part in that process to gain real world experience.

“They’ve proven themselves to be such a fantastic resource capable of the community’s trust in so many ways I can’t wait to get them back and get them engaged in helping us,” Wilson said.

You don’t need a medical background to help the health district.

All of the information you need to know about the vaccine in the New River Valley can be found on the NRV road to wellness website.

You can watch Friday’s entire conversation here.

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