VDH adjusting strategy to get more people vaccinated sooner

Some supply of second doses will be reassigned as first doses

State health leaders are reassessing their vaccine roll-out plan in an effort to speed up the process. This comes as Virginia no longer sits near the bottom as compared to other state’s vaccination rates.

As more Virginians get the COVID-19 vaccine, the Commonwealth is making progress.

The federal government promises 15% more doses next week and state leaders are reworking the plan. Dr. Danny Avula is the state vaccine coordinator.

“We are encouraging some providers to convert some of those second doses to first doses and so what that means is that we’ve just got to manage more effectively,” Dr. Avula said.

The Virginia Department of Health said 40,000 people will get their first doses next week under this new plan. They’re confident that the delay between first and second doses, combined with increased vaccine production, is enough to cover the difference.

“What does have to change is that we just have to manage that and track that because when we convert second doses to first doses we need to make sure we’re prepared to come behind that with two times that number,” Dr. Avula said. “The only piece of bad news is that is it’s not a 100% increase we really need and could handle significantly more vaccine given the infrastructure that’s been built up.”

Statewide data remains incomplete due to poor record-keeping in the initial rush to get the vaccine out. State leaders are trying to work backward to track those down and shore up the numbers.

According to the state dashboard, nearly 600,000 doses have at least one dose, which is 7% of the state’s population. Nearly 100,000 have received both doses. Together nearly 700,000 doses have been administered.

Moving forward Dr. Avula believes they’ll be at a more consistent 1 to 1 ratio.

“For every new 105,000 or 110,000 doses that are coming into the state, those will all get used up every week and then we’ll just have the corresponding second doses behind that,” Dr. Avula said.

So far mass vaccine clinics have been the primary method for inoculating people outside the healthcare setting. But Dr. Avula said while that works in more urban centers, our more rural areas are different. Not everyone can gather at a single location and local health districts are working on alternatives.

“So what is the plan? It’s to get vaccine distributed equitably to every area and have the local health districts work with their partners to really drive that strategy,” Dr. Avula said.

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