More essential workers are now able to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Blue Ridge Health District.
On Thursday, officials announced that those in phase 1c — which includes workers in food service, housing and construction, transportation and logistics, institutions of higher education faculty/staff, information technology and communication, finance, legal services and other essential workers — are eligible to be vaccinated in the health district.
“We want to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to schedule appointments and so the [Vaccine Administration Management System] has many appointments available over the next two months,” district spokeswoman Kathryn Goodman said at a press conference.
Gov. Ralph Northam also announced Thursday that all Virginians 16 and older will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 18.
Phase 1a and phase 1b priority groups — which include frontline health care workers, people 65 and older, those 16 and older with underlying medical conditions and some essential workers — who have registered in the state system at vaccinate.virginia.gov should have received an appointment invite by now, Goodman said.
“Invitations have gone out to thousands of individuals in 1b,” she said. “Weekly, we upload and send invitations out to individuals in 1a and we recently sent invites to everybody who was under 1b, and we’ll continue to do that as new folks pre-register in the state system, which is where we’re pulling the information from.”
Those in phases 1a and 1b who have not received an invite can call the BRHD through its COVID-19 hotline at (434) 972-6261 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
Goodman said they will be sending invitations out to those in phase 1c over the weekend, so if individuals don’t hear from the health district by mid- to late next week, they should contact BRHD.
Ryan McKay, COVID-19 incident commander for the health district, said there are about 7,000 people pre-registered for phase 1c in the state system.
Next week, BRHD is expecting 4,900 first doses and 1,100 second doses of the Moderna vaccine and 4,680 first doses and 1,170 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine, while the University of Virginia’s Seminole Square vaccine location is expecting 4,680 first doses and 1,170 second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
“So this increase does not include Johnson & Johnson — we do anticipate there’s going to be a significant increase in those doses allocated to us next week, and we’ll know more probably by the end of the day tomorrow,” McKay said Thursday.
As of the end of March, 135,000 doses have been administered in the health district and 49,828 people are fully vaccinated, McKay said.
Northam’s announcement said “nearly every Virginian in the highest risk groups who has pre-registered for a vaccination appointment has received one, and those still on the pre-registration list will receive appointment invitations within the next two weeks.”
According to the state, 3.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered so far in Virginia, more than one in three adults have received at least one dose and one in five Virginians are fully vaccinated.
Based on the supply projected by the federal government, all local health districts will have enough vaccine to open appointments to the general public by April 18, the state said.