HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - More Virginians are getting flu shots as the country waits for a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
“Our data is showing that flu vaccination is actually up over 30% in Virginia this year compared to last year, which I think is great. I think people understand the importance of the flu vaccine, especially this year,” said Christy Gray, the director of the Division of Immunization at the Virginia Department of Health.
Pfizer recently announced a new COVID-19 vaccine could be 90% effectiveand available soon, which has given hope to many people.
“We are really just in planning mode right now. We're getting all the logistical pieces in place, so whenever the vaccine is recommended, we are ready to start distributing it, and we will be providing guidance to the public at that time,” Gray said.
She said people at the health department are working hard and planning for the vaccine.
When asked about planning for the distribution, she said, “It has been intense. It's been complex, but VDH has strong public health emergency response plans that we practice annually, so this isn't new to us. We have taken what we usually do and have modified it to the COVID-19 considerations."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says the goal is to have a vaccine ready before the end of the year.
“This is just another tool that we can use to help bring this pandemic to an end,” Gray said. She said wearing a mask, staying home and socially distancing will help in the fight against COVID-19.
The CDC said initially there might not be enough vaccines for all adults, but said supplies will increase over time and should be available in 2021. However, they said a vaccine for kids may take more time.
“We do not believe vaccines that just come out of trial will be recommended for children, because it will not have been tested in children yet,” Gray said.
While we wait for the vaccine to be available, the health department stresses that it’s not too late to protect yourself from the flu.
“I want to keep encouraging people. There's still time; you can still get your flu vaccine,” said Gray.
To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the CDC's website here or the Virginia Department of Health's website here.