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Northam expands COVID-19 vaccine priority group in Virginia

Northam expands COVID-19 vaccine priority group in Virginia

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Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday expanded the list of people eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, with about half of all Virginians now in Phase 1b.

Anyone who is 65 or older or who has a chronic health condition can now join the queue with police, firefighters, teachers and factory workers; however, Virginia’s supply of vaccine doses is still limited to about 110,000 a week.

Northam said he is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommendation this week to lower the age from 75 to 65 on the priority list and to include any adults with medical conditions that place them at high risk for serious illness or death from COVID.

“This means about half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccine. That’s a major logistical effort, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” Northam said. “Everyone will need to be patient. It’s going to happen as fast as it can be done.”

While he said communication with federal partners is improving, he did not address the supply side.

Dr. Danny Avula, who Northam appointed to coordinate statewide vaccination efforts, said the plan is to open mass vaccination centers that are open six or seven days a week across the commonwealth.

He said they were mapping out locations and should have more information in a week.

The Roanoke and New River valleys on Monday began to vaccinate people in Phase 1b. The local health departments have reported that the demand for the vaccine is far greater than the supply.

 

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