A year later, health officials continue to push COVID-19 vaccine as Virginia tops 1M cases

Most localities in Southwest Virginia have at least half of their population fully vaccinated, VDH says

SALEM, Va. – Virginia has reached more than 1 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began.

Tuesday, Virginia added 2,416 new cases. It was also the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccine administered in the United States.

Sandra Lindsey, a New York City nurse, made history on Dec. 14, 2020. More than 220 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves and gotten the shot since then.

In the months to follow her vaccination, most restrictions were lifted and for many life slowly returned to normal, but the fight isn’t over as a new variant emerges.

“What we know about variants is that the more mutations you have, the more immune boost you need in order combat them,” said Director of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Dr. Muddasar Chaudry, Director of Infectious Diseases at LewisGale Medical Center, says misconceptions and distrust of science have people hesitant to get vaccinated. He is worried one day the vaccines may not be effective.

“It’s a matter of time. It’s not if, it’s when,” opined Chaudry.

Most localities in Southwest Virginia have at least half of their population fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

While early data shows the omicron variant yields milder symptoms, it is still a cause for concern.

“It’s likely milder but since it’s going to cause a lot more cases than the delta because of its contagiousness, it is possible we get back to the same level of hospitalizations and poor outcomes as we did with the initial virus and the delta variant,” explained Chaudry.

As the holidays continue and the weather gets colder and more people to gather inside, health officials urge vaccinations and testing even though we are in a much better position than we were last year.

“We just have to stay strong. We have to keep our head above water. We have to keep doing the right things,” said Chaudry.

He also suggests rapid testing hours before gathering with family.

“We should all who are going to get together and who are not from the same families should get tested a few hours before the get-together, because the one peculiar thing about this virus is that it becomes contagious within 24 hours,” stated Chaudry. “So, getting tested a day or two before does not help.”

About the Author

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.

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