RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond and Henrico Health District, the Chesterfield Health District and the Chickahominy Health District announced Friday they will start scheduling Phase 2 eligible people for their COVID-19 vaccine appointments for as soon as next week. That means vaccines will be open to people in metro Richmond 16 and over who want one.
"Many pre-registered individuals will receive emails and phone calls today to schedule their appointment for as soon as next week," officials with the health districts said in an email just before 8 a.m. "Additional scheduling outreach will be conducted over the coming weeks until everyone who has preregistered has been contacted for an appointment.
The decision to move forward with Phase 2 came after the area received enough doses of the vaccine to supply pharmacies, clinics throughout the region, as well as their own mass vaccination events, according to officials with the Richmond and Henrico Health District.
VACCINATING VIRGINIA: COVID-19 Vaccine Phase by Health District
The health department will continue to prioritize vaccines for those in 1a, 1b and 1c, who have pre-registered, but have yet to receive an appointment.
Officials said 35% of the vaccines will be allocated for the general population, while another 35% will go to phase 1c essential workers. Additionally, 15% will be allotted for 65 and up and another 15% will be for people in phases 1a and b.
If you have pre-registered and are still waiting, you should be receiving an email soon, officials with the health department said.
The Chesterfield Health District includes Chesterfield and Powhatan counties as well as the City of Colonial Heights. The Chickahominy Health District includes Hanover, New Kent, Goochland and Charles City counties.
Preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine on the Vaccinate Virginia website or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343)
'People no longer have to wonder if they qualify,' nurse manager says
"This is a turning point in our vaccine distribution," Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager for Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, said. "Everyone ages 16 and over is now eligible; people no longer have to wonder if they qualify."
Chesterfield Health District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel said called the move "good news for all of our residents."
“We are proud to take this step forward in vaccine distribution alongside partners in our area,” Samuel said.
Chickahominy Health District Director Dr. Tom Franck said he was thrilled about the move to Phase to so more people can be vaccinated.
"We will continue to prioritize those in Phase 1 as we move into Phase 2, while continuing to focus on equity and reaching our vulnerable populations with the support of our community partners," Franck added.
Virginia vaccine czar: J&J decrease could slow progress
The new date comes a week ahead of President Joe Biden's April 18 nationwide goal to open vaccinations to every adult who wants one.
Virginia's Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula previously said the state would be ready for that goal, but that the significant decrease in Johnson & Johnson vaccines expected for next week could slow progress once Phase 2 begins.
"So you go from 124,000 doses one week to 15,000 the next week -- that's a big challenge," Dr. Avula said.
He added that due to the decrease in doses, the state may have to push back plans for college-based vaccinations.
"We do know that college kids, you know, engage in riskier behavior from a COVID standpoint," Dr. Avula said.
Originally, the plan was to administer the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson vaccine to college students before they leave for the summer, but the decline in doses pushes plans back a week.
Avula also noted that before a district shifts to Phase 2, everyone who has pre-registered for the vaccine in Phases 1a, b or c will be given the chance to sign-up for an appointment.
"Between now and then [April 18] localities will be moving to 1c, working through their 1c lists, and then opening up to general eligibility," Avula explained last week. "The goal at general eligibility for April 18 is that people will be able to open-schedule into appointments."
Avula said there will not be walk-up mass vaccination clinics, but those appointments will be continued to be scheduled via a website or the state's call center.
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