Only one Hampton Roads city moving to next phase of vaccination this week

Posted at 3:58 PM, Jan 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 09:00:04-05

NORFOLK, Va. - Eleven areas in Virginia moved into the next phase of vaccination on Monday, but none of those areas were initially in Hampton Roads.

The eleven health districts, in Southwest Virginia and Northern Virginia, moved into Phase 1b.

In that phase, people 75 and over, essential front line workers, people in correctional facilities, people in homeless shelters and people working in migrant labor camps can be vaccinated.

Those front line workers include essential first responders, teachers, food and agriculture workers, manufacturers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, mail carriers and essential government officials.

Most of Hampton Roads remains in Phase 1a, where just healthcare workers and people in long term care facilities are being vaccinated. "I don't think it's that communities have fallen behind; I think it's just the vaccination capacity and demand for vaccinations among that 1a population have looked very different [across different regions]," said Dr. Danny Avula, who is overseeing the vaccine roll out for the Department of Health.

Later on Monday News 3 got an update. Employees who work for Chesapeake Public Schools were told Monday that they will be able to start receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine beginning Wednesday.

Some areas have fewer healthcare workers and thus have been able to advance into the next phase, according to Dr. Avula. Virginia wanted to be flexible and not force the entire Commonwealth to advance phases at one time if others are ready. About 50 to 60% of healthcare workers have wanted a vaccine. They had hoped 100% would, but Avula said demand continues to grow as workers see their colleagues get safely vaccinated.

"There's a continued growing demand among healthcare workers and health systems, so that's encouraging," he said.

Around Hampton Roads, the most vaccinations have happened so far in Virginia Beach with more than 7,000. On the Peninsula, nearly 3,000 people in Newport News have been vaccinated.

"The solutions look different in every community, and there is just a lot of contextualization that needs to happen based on population, based on vaccination capacity," said Avula.

The goal is all of Virginia will be in Phase 1b by the end of the month. Following that, it remains unclear when Virginia would enter 1c. It all depends on the amount of vaccine available.

Virginia continues to develop strategies to make sure everyone is vaccinated without making it overly administrative. "What we hope is that the public will understand the rationale for prioritization, and if you are not as high risk as somebody else in your community, that you would let them go first," said Avula.

VDH has launched a new tool to check when you might get a vaccine.

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