Local health districts, state lawmakers try to speed up vaccine rollout

Posted at 2:53 PM, Feb 02, 2021

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Portsmouth ranks last among the seven cities of Hampton Roads when it comes to vaccinating people.

Just under 4,000 people have been vaccinated so far, according to data from the Virginia Department of Health. That's a rate of 4,189 per 100,000 people.

By comparison, Virginia Beach has vaccinated more than 36,000 people at a rate of 8,165 per 100,000 people.

The Portsmouth Health District was unavailable to do an interview Tuesday and staff didn't respond to further questions about what's being done to bridge the gap.

Previously, the district said it was among the last to receive the Moderna vaccine, putting them behind. The city was last locally to enter Phase 1b of vaccination. They said they are a small health district and working hard to vaccinate people in a Facebook post in January.

Statewide, health officials have blamed a lack of vaccine supply and data lags for the frustration many are feeling from the vaccine rollout. This week the Western Tidewater Health District had to cancel vaccine appointments due to lack of supply, according to Isle of Wight County.

The vaccine supply is increasing going forward, the Department of Health has said.

This week the General Assembly has also taken action to try and speed things up. Emergency legislation has now passed both chambers. It will help remove barriers to allow more people to become vaccinators, help create vaccination sites, and require data entry to ensure the vaccine rollout is done in an equitable way.

The bill is now awaiting Gov. Northam's signature and would immediately take effect.

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