NORFOLK, Va. - In an effort to speed up the vaccine rollout, Virginians 65 and older will now be eligible to be vaccinated during Phase 1b.
Gov. Northam said he was following CDC recommendations in expanding who is eligible under the next phase. People under 64 with comorbidities will also eligible. Previously, Phase 1b included people 75 and older.
"This means half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccine and that's a major logistical challenge," said Northam during a press conference on Thursday. "It's not going to happen overnight. Everyone needs to be patient."
Some parts of Virginia have entered Phase 1b, including the Eastern Shore, but Hampton Roads has remains in 1a. Health officials say between 15,000 to 20,000 people have been getting vaccinated each day this week, but that number needs to increase to 25,000 a day and eventually 50,000.
"Everyone is working hard and is eager to do more," said Northam. "We all know the need is large."
Northam spoke with hospital leaders and the leaders of health districts on Thursday morning. "My message to them was simple: thank you and Virginia needs everyone to move faster."
To accomplish their goals, health officials said sites would need to be established to allow for mass vaccinations. They hope the National Guard and vaccine contractors will run them to make them efficient. "I'm counting on everyone to help us get this done," said Northam.
Gov. Northam also acknowledged some remain hesistant to get a vaccine, but stressed they're safe. "Vaccines are how we get back to a near normal. This is how we reopen our schools and rebuild our economy," he said.