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State adds some new vaccine information to website, but details on distribution still lacking

State adds some new vaccine information to website, but details on distribution still lacking

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The Virginia Department of Health added information Tuesday to its COVID-19 vaccine dashboard that shows how many doses hospitals, health departments, long-term care facilities and others have put into arms, but it doesn’t provide much in the way of details.

While the department reports that it has distributed 773,825 doses, it does not show who received the vaccine vials.

The state reports that 200,402 doses have gone into arms, and that it believes this figure to be an undercount. But the only window it provides on the other half-million unaccounted-for doses is found in a distribution chart showing that about 130,000 doses have been shipped to vaccinators since Sunday.

While Virginians can now view a daily count that shows, for example, that local health departments have administered 42,456 doses, there is no corresponding information to say how many doses have been distributed to those local health departments, or when.

Accounting for the distribution and administration of the doses has been fuzzy. Gov. Ralph Northam has promised more transparency but said it would take time.

A month into the most massive public vaccination campaign in U.S. history, the department reports that 19,086 Virginians are now fully vaccinated with both doses and that 181,316 had received at least one dose.

Until Monday, only health care workers and long-term care residents and staff were eligible for the vaccine. Parts of Virginia, including the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts and the New River Health District, are also now starting to vaccinate other essential workers who are at high risk of exposure and people 75 and older who are at high risk of serious illness from the virus.

Dr. Cynthia Morrow, director of the Roanoke and Alleghany districts, said Tuesday that doses have been limited and that this week she received enough to give 1,500 people their first dose and 300 their second.

She places an order each week but is not guaranteed that she will receive that number of doses or that they will arrive in time for scheduled clinics.

The districts have been holding clinics for first responders in the Roanoke Valley on Tuesdays and Thursdays and give out 600 appointments for each. Other, smaller clinics take place in Craig County and Covington.

Morrow said they are using a computer system that quickly reports to the state how many doses were given, but even that can be an undercount. Last week, for example, some of the district’s doses were redistributed to health care providers, so while they ended up in arms, the doses don’t show up as having been administered by the district.

Other health districts are using paper records, which delays reporting.

The vaccinators receive large shipments -- which show up in the state’s numbers as having been distributed -- but then are using them over the next week to 10 days. They also have an additional three days to report that the shots were given.

Morrow said the health districts are helping pharmacies and health care providers file the necessary paperwork to become COVID-19 vaccinators so shipments can be sent directly to them, increasing the places people can go for their shots.

“The more options people will have to be vaccinated, while it takes a little more time in the beginning, we will be able to get to more people more effectively, and in a more sustainable way,” she said.

However, the doses are still limited.

She said her next order will ask for more doses, but she expects every other district also is asking for more.

“All of us are very hopeful the vaccine supply will open up,” she said.

The dashboard on Tuesday showed that hospitals had given out 105,191 doses; health departments, 42,456; long-term care facilities, 22,375; medical practices, 12,779; pharmacies, 1,613; and other community providers, 15,988.

The demographic breakdown of those who have received the vaccines shows that 7 out of 10 people are between the ages of 30 and 59, and that more than two-thirds are women. The race and ethnicity data is lacking for about two-thirds of people.

Only 16,550 people age 70 or older have been given the vaccine, according to the dashboard.

 

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