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Frontline workers at the front of the line for new coronavirus vaccine phase

Those 75 and older also qualify for the vaccine, but will not be prioritized

ROANOKE, Va. – The effort to vaccinate Virginians against COVID-19 reached a new level on Monday, but there will be some preferential treatment on who gets the shot first.

Phase 1B of Virginia’s vaccination strategy includes people older than 75 and frontline workers, such as first responders and educators. Roanoke City and Alleghany health districts Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow said the latter group will be prioritized in the distribution.

“We won’t be able to get the vaccine into everyone’s arms overnight,” Morrow said. “First responders don’t have the option of staying home, so if you’re 75 or older and you can stay home and be safe, please continue to do so.”

[Where are Virginia’s coronavirus cases? The health department’s interactive map]

Senior citizens can also express their interest in receiving the vaccine; however, Morrow even told her own mother it would be wise to wait a week or two to try and get in line.

“I told her that I hope she waits,” Morrow said. “If she can defer her vaccine for a few weeks and allow us to vaccinate our police and fire, all of us as a society will do better. First responders don’t have the option of staying home, so if you’re 75 or older and you can stay home and be safe, please continue to do so.”

The group of first responders includes public transit workers, including Valley Metro employees.

Valley Metro General Manager Kevin Price said nine of his 120 employees, including four bus drivers, have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic started.

“This has been a challenge and something that I pray on every day,” Price said.

Price told 10 News that Valley Metro workers have started to sign up for the vaccine and that the list of employees will soon be forwarded to local health officials.

“They’re excited about being in line and excited about being a priority as an essential worker,” Price said. “We’ve stepped up to the challenge, and hopefully we will look back on this and say we did it together.”

Each health district in Phase 1B is distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in a slightly different way. For information in your district, click the following links: