Virginia expected to receive fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses than planned, VDH says

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Posted at 9:43 AM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 22:18:44-05

The Virginia Department of Health announced Friday that, like other states, Virginia's estimated allocation of COVID-19 vaccines will be less than initially planned for the next few weeks.

Instead, the state will receive 100,000 fewer doses of the vaccine than originally expected.

“Between Pfizer and Moderna, we expect to get about 370,000 doses of the vaccine in December,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver.

According to the VDH, the federal government's Operation Warp Speed informed the department that Virginia is expected to receive 370,650 doses of vaccine in December 2020 from two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. This is down from the previously expected 480,000 doses.

The exact reason remains unclear, but Virginia’s health department said these adjustments are typical, and estimates can change in an operation of this magnitude.

The VDH said Virginia's health care personnel and long-term care facility residents remain top priority groups. Eighteen Virginia hospitals received initial shipments of the Pfizer vaccine this week, and began dispersing a total of 72,125 doses to frontline healthcare workers.

Dr. Oliver said they’re forging ahead with the more than 72,000 doses the state now has of the potentially life-saving drug.

“We’ll be getting more (doses) in January and will be able to cover the entire population of healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents,” he said.

According to Oliver, the temporary loss of 100,000 doses essentially means immunization of nursing home residents and frontline workers should be wrapped up by mid-January rather than the end of the month.

“As the vaccine becomes more available, we’ll expand that distribution to other essential workers, people with chronic medical conditions, vulnerable populations,” he said.

An order of 146,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine will begin arriving the week of December 21, now that the vaccine received approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Friday night.

Oliver said the state advisory work group is putting together a priority list for high-risk essential workers who will be next in line for the shot.

“It will include teachers; it will include first responders, law enforcement, people who keep the lights on, who drive our buses, who ensure we get food,” he said. It’s a long list of people, that’s why I said we have to prioritize it.”

The VDH is working closely with the CDC to ensure a smooth and equitable vaccine deployment, the department said.

Nursing home residents and those in assisted living facilities will be vaccinated starting December 28 and the general public could get their shots as soon as the spring or early summer.