The Chickahominy Health District, which includes the Hanover Health Department, has received an initial shipment of COVID-19 vaccine and has connected with Hanover Fire/EMS, the Hanover Sheriff’s Office, Ashland Police, Hanover County Public Schools Nurses, and local healthcare professionals to schedule and administer the Moderna vaccine. The Hanover Health Department started to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to first responders and healthcare professionals today, January 5, 2021. These groups were identified as part of Phase 1a by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP).
At this time, two COVID-19 vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine, have been authorized for emergency use by the FDA and recommended by CDC. These vaccines come in several smaller shipments, and there is currently limited supply. Additional doses are expected in early 2021 and will be provided to more Virginians, but the exact timeline is not yet known.
The ACIP reviewed vaccine studies and made recommendations on who should receive the COVID-19 vaccine first. Certain groups will get the vaccine first based on their higher risks for COVID-19. The first vaccines are going to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities in Phase 1a. Large hospital systems, like Bon Secours, have received vaccine and are vaccinating their 1a staff. Long-term care facilities (LTCF) have joined the federal Pharmacy Partnership program so that residents and staff can be administered the vaccine by Walgreen and CVS.
The next priority group, Phase 1b, includes frontline essential workers and people 75 and older. Then, people aged 16-74 with high-risk medical conditions, people aged 65-74, and other essential workers are the next priority group in Phase 1c. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is reviewing the recommendations for Phases 1b and 1c and will provide further guidance soon.
“With the New Year comes new hope in our fight against COVID-19,” said the Chickahominy Health District Director, Dr. Tom Franck. “The COVID vaccine represents a new and exciting tool that is going to help us save lives. It is a remarkable feat that we now have these vaccines that have been shown to be 95% effective at preventing COVID-19, and that fact gives me tremendous optimism. I am truly amazed and encouraged by the innovation and teamwork that has gone into creating, manufacturing, distributing, and administering these vaccines. The vaccine campaign has begun and, while we need to prioritize the frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents who are most critical and most at risk, more vaccine is being shipped each week there promises to be sufficient vaccine in the coming weeks and months to be able to vaccinate other priority groups and eventually the entire population.”
We know that this issue is important to our community, and we will continue to communicate any news to you as soon as possible. For more information about the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response Plan, please visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine. Visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/vaccination for answers to frequently asked questions.
“Hanover County will continue to partner with the Health Department on this very important issue and share with you future vaccination opportunities,” said Hanover County Administrator, John A. Budesky. He urged residents to “Stay safe and healthy.”
Governor Northam and the Virginia Emergency Support Team are holding a press conference tomorrow afternoon, Jan. 6th at 2 p.m. to provide updates on the Commonwealth’s ongoing response to COVID-19 including vaccination plans. This event will be livestreamed on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.