ROANOKE, Va. – Thousands of more people in the Roanoke Valley will soon be getting their shots after a huge increase in doses this week.
“I strongly believe that we’ll be able to open up within the next couple of weeks,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts director.
The highly-coveted COVID-19 vaccine is now one step closer to going public in the Roanoke Valley.
Morrow said appointments could be available to anyone who wants one by mid-April.
This comes after a dramatic increase in supply this week. The district received more than 17,000 doses. Over the last two weeks, the allotment was 8,350.
Much of that increase is coming from the second shipment of Johnson & Johnson.
The boost is thanks to a change in the statewide distribution system, no longer based solely on population but also demand, which is higher in the Roanoke area than others.
Now able to give out 13,000 first doses this week, the district expects to move to Phase 1c next week. That waitlist is much shorter, including other essential workers who are not on the frontlines.
“If everything stays the same and our vaccine supply continues to increase, we’ll only be in Phase 1c for a very short period of time,” Morrow said.
Clinics are still by appointment only.
These signs of hope have a lot of people wondering when we’ll see restrictions rolling back.
Some states are already lifting mask mandates, which President Joe Biden is urging against.
Morrow said she has no idea when we’re going to be able to safely relax our current public health recommendations. She’s very against lifting the mask mandate and said we should keep it around for the foreseeable future.
“Until we have a much higher level of vaccination and a much lower level of COVID disease activity, It’s not safe to take off our masks,” Morrow said.
The only change to VDH guidance is giving the OK to small gatherings for people who are fully vaccinated.
With Easter coming up this weekend, health experts are still discouraging gatherings, saying if you do, make sure you wear masks, social distance and meet outside if possible.