VDH Doctor overseeing vaccine rollout says he understands frustration

Posted at 3:02 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 14:14:14-05

NORFOLK, Va. - The latest data from VDH shows about a 600,000 dose gap between the number of vaccines Virginia has received and the number of people who've been vaccinated. Now, some are questioning the vaccine rollout.

Peninsula leaders released a joint statement Monday saying, "We're all frustrated." Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer sent a letter to the state last week calling the vaccine rollout "extremely frustrating" and "disappointing."

Dr. Danny Avula is overseeing the vaccine plan for VDH said he understands the frustration, but added, "What I want to assure everyone is that the gap is actually much smaller."

There's an issue with the data entry systems connecting and communicating with each other, which is creating the big gap, Avula said.

In addition, he said the VDH site will soon update with more specific data to help people get a clearer understanding of where things stand. For example, second doses of vaccines are grouped in with total the number of vaccines distributed. In many cases, there are appointments for those second vaccines to be administered, but the website may give a false impression the doses are just sitting on shelves.

Avula said a team of ten is working to fix the data entry issues. "That is really a huge part of our job right now - to fix the accuracy of the data, so there isn't this public frustration, which I totally get, but the reality is there isn't a ton of vaccine just sitting on shelves out there," he said.

Another big issue is simply just the amount of vaccine available. "I think the hardest thing is we just don't have the vaccine we need," he said.

It will likely take months for Virginia to get the vaccine needed, but already plans are taking shape for mass vaccination sites. For now, the focus is on clearing up the data reporting issues to help with communication.

"It's our job to fix that and we will actually get to the bottom of what's accounting for those discrepancies, so the public can regain trust," said Avula.