Virginia health leaders host meetings addressing COVID-19 vaccine concerns, including cost, access

Posted at 11:02 PM, Dec 08, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. – More than 100 people from across the Commonwealth and in Hampton Roads joined in on a very timely topic - the COVID-19 vaccine.

People in the community want to know: What is the execution plan, will insurance cover it, and will undocumented people have a chance to get vaccinated?

"How we plan to engage community?” asked one speaker during the virtual Zoom meeting.

Tuesday night’s meeting was just one of six "COVID-19 Vaccine Community Conversation" panels the Virginia Department of Health is hosting.

Health leaders say they are finalizing the vaccine communication plan and say they want to get it right.

"We want to make sure our info is accessible,” says Acting Cirector of the VDH’s Office of Health Equity, Sable Nelson.

The meetings are open to everyone, but this one was tailored to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

"Over half of registered nurses who have died in America have been Filipino,” said Suja Amir. Amir is the Vice Chair of the Asian American Advisory Board.

Members of the community want to make sure they are protected when the vaccine rolls out.

As we’ve reported, health care workers will be one of the first groups to get the vaccine. When it becomes available to the general public, the community wants to know if undocumented people will also be protected. Leaders say yes.

"We are working with our Virginia free clinics,” said Dr. Stephanie Wheawill.

One listener asked if the vaccine is safe for expecting mothers.

"What we have seen is that it would not likely be indicated for someone who is pregnant, but we are waiting for data review,” adds Dr. Wheawill.

Another popular question: Will the vaccine cost anything? Health leaders say no.

Dr. Wheawill says, "There should be no cost sharing, no fee; no one should be turned away without having insurance.”

To make sure everyone receives accurate information, some speakers want to see it on paper.

"Some of our communities will need material in written form!"

Health leaders say they are working on making sure information is available in different languages.

"Transparency is high on our list,” adds Wheawill.

Another question that came up is if Virginians will be ordered to take the vaccine. Leaders say ,“There are no plans to mandate the vaccine."

For upcoming meeting dates, click here.

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.