Virginia hoping to ramp up vaccination efforts by March; National Guard to help

coronavirus vaccine filephoto
Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 23:31:45-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – The more contagious COVID-19 variant from the U.K. is spreading quickly. As of February 3, a total of four cases of have been found in northern Virginia.

The mutant strain is threatening to become the leading virus by next month, and the pressure to vaccinate more people is becoming more urgent with limited supply.

Virginia was getting about 105,000 new doses per week. Dr. Danny Avula, who oversees the state’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout said this week, the Commonwealth received a 16% increase in vaccine allotment with about 122,000 doses.

“Right now, we’re getting 120,000 doses a week and without a drastic increase in supply, it’s going to be weeks before we get through our 1b population,” he said.

On average, the Commonwealth is administering less than 40,000 shots a day, only hitting the goal of 50,000 doses on a couple days last week. To hit that goal every day, Dr. Avula said they need more shots.

“The challenge is, we’re not going to get that much vaccine every week,” he said. “To get to 50,000 doses a day, seven days a week, you need 350,000 doses each week, and we’re a long way from that. If we had five times the amount of vaccine that we’re receiving, we could put it out.”

To get more people vaccinated and to hit the governor’s goal of 50,000 vaccinations a day, Dr. Avula said more mass vaccination sites are needed.

“The planning is ongoing,” he said. “The plan to have the National Guard deployed and staff those sites is still in place. I think it would be later into the spring before we have a steady and expansive enough supply to justify that mass vaccination concept seven days a week.”

With new vaccines on the horizon and a slight production increase, Dr. Avula is hopeful supply will be ramped up by next month. In the meantime, the National Guard is on standby.

“The deployment has been enacted, so we’re expecting they will start to filter back from their current deployment in Washington, D.C., toward the end of February, beginning of March,” Dr. Avula said. “When we have enough supply to stand that up seven days a week, they’ll be ready to go and ready to deliver vaccine.”

Additionally, Dr. Avula said pharmacies will play a big role in getting more shots in more arms.

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