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More local health districts to move into Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccinations

COVID-19 vaccine
Posted at 4:19 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-25 17:04:52-05

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - More local health districts announced Thursday that they will be moving into the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

Norfolk

Starting Monday, January 25, the Norfolk Department of Public Health (NDPH) will expand COVID-19 vaccination clinics to people are eligible in Phase 1b, which is defined as the vaccination of frontline essential workers, people aged 65 years and older, people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, and people age 16-64 years old who have a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Frontline essential workers are defined as workers who are in sectors essential to the functioning of society, are at substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and cannot work remotely, including:

  • Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  • People working in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps
  • Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff (public and private)
  • Food and Agriculture (including veterinarians)
  • Manufacturing
  • Grocery store workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Mail carriers (USPS and private)
  • Officials needed to maintain continuity of government (including judges and public facing judicial workers

NDPH vaccination clinics are closed to the general public. Health officials say they will continue to prioritize Phase 1a healthcare workers for closed point of dispensing (PODs) until they all have the opportunity for vaccination.

Starting January 25, Norfolk residents who meet the Phase 1a or 1b eligibility requirements can preregister for a vaccine two ways:

  1. Online at www.norfolk.gov/covid19vaccine
  2. Call 664-SHOT (7478) Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

If you are eligible, you are highly encouraged to use the online form due to long wait times. The preregistration process will add you to a waitlist within the specific phase in which you are eligible.

NDPH wants to emphasize that preregistration does not schedule you for a COVID-19 vaccine appointment and that due to limited vaccine availability, it could take up anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks before you are notified to schedule your appointment.

When you go to your appointment, you must bring a form of identification such as a driver’s license, and you will be asked to show proof of qualification, such as a work ID, to verify eligibility.

“We are pleased to announce we are now moving into Phase 1b and vaccinating our next eligible group,” said Norfolk Health District Director Dr. Demetria Lindsay. “As the vaccine becomes more widely available, it is still important to adhere to public health prevention practices.”

Virginia Beach

The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health also announced the Virginia Beach Health District will move into Phase 1b starting Monday. This comes a day after State Sen. Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) wrote a letter to Gov. Ralph Northam questioning why the city had not moved on to the next phase of the vaccine rollout and VDH announced that the Western Tidewater Health District would move into Phase 1b next week.

The city will begin closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for Phase 1b priority groups next week. Residents in Phase 1a will still be provided opportunities to receive the vaccine.

If you live in Virginia Beach and fall into the Phase 1b category, you must pre-register to receive the vaccine through a new online portal that will also be available starting Monday. To access the portal, click here (the link is not currently live at the time of publication) and enter your personal information.

To get ready, registrants must have a working email address. Chrome is the preferred browser for the portal. Residents may contact the City’s 311 Citizen Services call center with any questions and for assistance with pre-registration. Dial “311” within Virginia Beach city limits. Callers from outside the city limits can dial (757) 385-3111 to reach 3​11 Citizen Services. Once pre-registered and when you are eligible to schedule a vaccination appointment, you will receive an email from the Virginia Department of Health and/or the CDC with a link to the online scheduling system.

“Providing the COVID-19 vaccine to citizens is our top priority. There is high demand for the vaccine and we are taking every measure to safely and effectively distribute it as quickly as possible to aid in the mitigation of COVID-19,” said Virginia Beach Mayor Robert M. “Bobby” Dyer.

“While the vaccine brings us steps closer to ending this pandemic, it will still be months before it is widely available to the general public,” said Virginia Beach District Health Director Dr. Demetria M. Lindsay. “Continuing to adhere to COVID-19 prevention practices remains very important as we work our way through the vaccination process.”

Some 1a and 1b employees may be scheduled to receive the vaccine through their employers. Vaccination planning teams are reaching out to coordinate with employers in Phase 1b. However, if you qualify for phase 1b, you may still pre-register on your own, you are not required to wait for your employer.

On Monday, the line stretched from outside the Convention Center to the inside with about 3,000 people getting vaccinated. "It was long. The shot was easy, but the line was long," said Jennifer Deisch, a sixth grade teacher getting vaccinated Monday. "I think we all want to get back to normalcy and I think this is our first step in getting there."

As availability of the vaccine increases, Norfolk and Virginia Beach will move to the other phases. The complete definitions of all phases, data and other information, are on VDH’s Vaccine Response website here. You can use this eligibility tool to find out which vaccination phase you fall under.

If anyone is interested in becoming a vaccinator to help with the process, people can apply through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corp.

Hampton, Peninsula

The Hampton and Peninsula Health Districts announced they will be moving into Phase 1b for priority groups this week.

Starting Friday, January 22, the Peninsula Health District will begin closed “points of dispensing” (POD’s) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for Phase 1b priority groups. The focus will be frontline workers, people living in congregate settings and people 75 years of age and over. These people will be required to bring a form of identification such as a driver’s license and a work ID when applicable, in order to verify eligibility.

Other sectors of Phase 1b will be added as more vaccine becomes available and the health districts expand our vaccinator pool.

“Thanks to the help of our local health systems, we are able to begin providing vaccine to the 1b priority groups while continuing to vaccinate 1a health care providers,” said Dr. Natasha Dwamena, Health District Director. “Vaccine supply remains limited. So we are starting with the people most at risk for infection and death. On the Peninsula that is people over 75 years and older, those living in congregate setting.”

Virginians who do not fall into priority phases will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available. Once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine. People will be able to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy, primary care physician, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)/free clinic, local health department or other clinic that is participating as a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider.

Portsmouth

Beginning, Tuesday, January 26, the Portsmouth Health District will conduct closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1b” priority groups. Phase 1b is the second group eligible to receive the vaccine, and includes police, fire and hazmat response personnel, those living and working in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, childcare/K-12 teachers and staff, food and agriculture workers, manufacturers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, mail carriers (USPS and private), anyone age 65 and older, and those individuals 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions. Residents in Phase 1a will still be provided opportunities to receive the vaccine.

These individuals will be required to bring a personal form of identification such as a driver’s license, and may also be asked to show proof of qualification, such as a work ID, in order to verify eligibility. These PODs are specifically for Phase 1b and 1a; COVID-19 vaccine is not available to the general public and these are not public events.

Individuals 65 years and older and those 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions should complete the online survey here or call (757) 405-1800 or email phd.info@vdh.virginia.gov to schedule an appointment. The health district is experiencing high call volumes and ask that callers be patient.

You can learn more about the vaccine, its safety and answers to frequently asked questions at the VDH’s website and the CDC’s website.

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