Journalists, lawyers and waiters in the Roanoke region are among those now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts on Thursday moved the vaccination campaign to Phase 1c starting Friday, with a 5,000-shot clinic at the Berglund Center to which area media were invited.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam said all Virginians 16 and older will be eligible to be vaccinated starting April 18. Northam said in a news release that nearly every Virginian at the highest risk for serious illness or death from COVID who has preregistered has been vaccinated or has an appointment.
The local health districts were able to move to the next phase because of an increase of vaccine this week that includes 8,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The vaccine is not from the Baltimore manufacturing plant that made an error, requiring the destruction of 15 million doses as reported earlier this week.
Phase 1c includes workers in energy, water, wastewater and waste removal, housing and construction, food service, transportation and logistics, higher education, finance, information technology and communications, media, legal services, public safety and public health.
Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the districts’ health director, said she expects the districts will move quickly through Phase 1c and then be ready for the general population. Vaccinations of health care workers, the elderly, adults with compromising medical conditions and other workers in Phase 1b are still taking place.
Anyone in Phase 1 who has been unable to make an appointment should call 540-613-6597.
Health department spokeswoman Christie Wills said calls have slowed and on-hold wait times have eased, which was another sign that demand by those in Phase 1b is waning.
Some other health districts had already seen that decline and have moved to Phase 1c. The New River Valley began vaccinating Virginia Tech and Radford University staff this week.
The Lenowisco Health District and the Cumberland Plateau Health District also are receiving shipments of the J&J, or Janssen, vaccine and are planning large clinics. Appointments will be offered to those on the preregistration list.
To preregister, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-829-4682.