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VDH ramps up vaccine efforts

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 11:20 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - After what the state health department calls frustration and negative press last week, they wanted to let people know they have been focusing their efforts on vaccination strategy.

Friday, the Virginia Department of Health said 697,914 total doses of the vaccine have been administered. This time last week Virginia was at the bottom of the list of percent of doses administered compared to the other 50 states.

“I just want to reassure people that has significantly improved,” said State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny TK Avula. “At some points in the last 13 hours we were at the bottom of that list of the 50 states, but we have steadily increased.”

Because of this, VDH said it is trying to be more efficient in how those vaccines are distributed, by creating more larger scale vaccination events. This week there were 840 vaccination points, which increases the footprint of the vaccine but also makes it difficult to get all the data in as quickly as possible.

It’s an effort Avula said they have been working to perfect, clearing the way for 40,000 more people to get their first doses this week.

“We really need and can handle significantly more vaccine at this point given the infrastructure that we built up around the state,” Avula said.

To determine your local health department and to check your health district’s website for additional information, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/.

Click here for more information about Virginia’s Phase 1b Guidance. For more information about Virginia’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.

To get those shots in people’s arms, VDH said it’s trying to manage the load better, now converting second doses into first ones for a new group of people.

Local CVS and Walgreens locations have been stepping up as each health district needs them. VDH said they have now administered 18,000 of the total doses statewide.

“As we need that 50,000-dose-a-day target, we are absolutely going to need pharmacies of every kind,” Avula said. “They’ve been amazing partners that I think will continue to augment our capacity a great deal.”

Right now, Avula said 420 pharmacies are ready to vaccinate.

For every second dose of a vaccine that’s changed to a first dose, the state needs to order two to replace it to make sure each person is set to get both doses. You get the same vaccine twice and the second one is the booster shot.

VDH said it will continue to focus on optimal delivery of the vaccine with rapid data entry into the system.

You can listen to Friday’s press conference here.

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