NORFOLK, Va. - The vaccine acceptance rate is 49-percent in the Eastern region of Virginia, lagging behind other parts of the state, according to data from the University of Virginia's COVID-19 modeling.
By comparison, Northern Virginia's acceptance rate is 61-percent. The numbers mean the Eastern region could be more vulnerable to future outbreaks of the virus. "Northern Virginia as they have higher levels of acceptance they're much more resilient," said Bryan Lewis, associate research professor at UVA's Biocomplexity Institute.
Over the past year, UVA researchers have been using modeling to predict what the pandemic will look like in the future. They now factor in vaccine acceptance rates to help make their predictions. The rate is based on the number of people vaccinated and the number of people who responded to surveys saying they would definitely or probably get vaccinated.
"What we're trying to do is bake these into our models and say, okay, given these levels of acceptance as these two surveys are measuring - what does that tell us about the future?" he said.
If more people get vaccinated, the models keep vaccine transmission rates lower than if people don't get vaccinated. "People just have to get vaccinated. It's safe and going around without it is just asking for trouble," said Lewis.
Graphs from the Department of Health show a peak in daily vaccines in Virginia in early April. Since then, things have trailed off. In Norfolk and Portsmouth, just under 25-percent of people are fully vaccinated. By comparison, about 37-percent of people are fully vaccinated in Fairfax and Loudon counties.
Dr. Danny Avula, the state vaccination coordinator, says Virginia has reached peak demand. For now, they're trying to make things more convenient for people who may have been hesitant or just haven't gotten it done yet. "I do think all of these efforts to make it convenient and get out to where people are are going to help us move towards community immunity," said Avula.
Health officials hope people will get vaccinated to make the future healthier.