COVID-19 vaccine czar: Parts of Virginia could move to phase 1c in 2 weeks

Virus Outbreak J J Vaccine
Posted at 5:36 PM, Mar 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-12 17:58:12-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's vaccine coordinator said the Commonwealth should have no problem hitting President Joe Biden's target of offering the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone by May 1.

In fact, Dr. Danny Avula, who spoke about the deadline on a tele-briefing Friday afternoon, said the health department might even reach the goal a few weeks early.

Avula pointed to Virginia's daily administration numbers and the expected increases of weekly vaccine shipments to be able to meet that goal.

Officials said Virginia expects to receive 195,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines next week.

As expected , Avula said the Johnson & Johnson shipment will be below 10,000 doses of the single-shot vaccine. However, by the end of the month, the state expects to receive around 100,000 J&J vaccines per week.

RELATED: This is the 'biggest challenge' facing Virginia vaccinators

Virus Outbreak J J Vaccine
FILE - This Dec. 2, 2020, file photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two (Johnson & Johnson via AP)

Preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine on the Vaccinate Virginia website or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343)

Additionally, Avula said that by the end of April Virginia will receive around 600,000 doses of the various vaccines per week.

In terms of giving those shots out, Virginia is averaging around 54,000 per day. He said the next target is to hit 100,000 per day.

A part of increasing that number will be through community vaccination centers that launch next week and will be run by contractors using funding from FEMA.

One of the first three to launch will be at Virginia State University in Petersburg. Their goal will be to vaccinate 3,000 people per day.

Avula said that with the addition of these sites some parts of the state could be ready to move from Phase 1b to 1c in two weeks.

"And then they're going to get through their 1c population in about a week," Avula said. "The 1c category is not very big at all and we're already starting to plan closed PODs with some of the 1c employer groups for that first week of April."

Avula said the big push will be getting enough people, around 75 percent of the population, willing to get inoculated to reach herd immunity.

National polling show about 65 percent of people willing to get it, according to Avula, who worries it may be difficult to convince that last ten percent.

"But I also think it is it is highly possible," Avula added. "Both, as we shift more vaccine to private providers, I think people do really rely on their doctors and nurses for guidance and advice. And so, as more of that vaccine shifts out to provider communities, being able to take time and work through vaccine hesitancy will really increase uptake."