Southwest Virginia health districts work to increase COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of July 4th goal

Certain counties are still experiencing some hesitancy when it comes to getting the shot

ROANOKE, Va. – As state leaders celebrate hitting President Joe Biden’s July 4th goal to get 70% of adults vaccinated, local health leaders say there is still work to be done.

“You know, I think in certain parts of the state, we are seeing lower overall vaccination rates hovering around 40%, which means there are still a significant number of people who are not protected against COVID,” State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said.

While portions of northern Virginia, Richmond and Charlottesville have all relatively high vaccination rates, most counties in southwest Virginia still only have anywhere between 30-50% fully vaccinated.

“Some of our districts are really lagging, Covington and Craig are struggling to hit 50% of the population,” Roanoke City and Alleghany Health District Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow said.

The Central Virginia Health District says it struggles the most with getting people in their 20′s to get the shot.

“The Virginia average for having at least one vaccine dose in that age group is about 40 percent, the Lynchburg area is at about 20%,” CVHD Population Health Manager Lindsey Lockewood said.

Other health districts like the Mount Rogers Health District say data may not be fully reflecting their true vaccination rate since so many people get healthcare in surrounding states.

“We know a lot of folks go out of state for their regular medical care so we know that some of our vaccination numbers of those who have been vaccinated in our region are not truly reflected on VDH’s website” Mount Rogers Health District Population Health Manager Breanne Forbes Hubbard said.

But still, state leaders say the road to herd immunity still runs long.

And they will continue to encourage every Virginian to take advantage of how accessible the vaccine is right now.

“Things are looking really good right now in Virginia, we’re really encouraged. But we need to keep pressing forward in this effort,” Avula said.

Some local health districts are planning on continuing their outreach efforts throughout the rest of the year and potentially into next year as well.

About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.