PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY Va. -- Everyone in Virginia age 16 and older will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Sunday, April 18, which is nearly two weeks ahead of President Joe Biden's May 1 nationwide goal to open vaccinations to every adult who wants one.
Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement Thursday at a vaccination clinic at First Mount Zion Baptist Church in Prince William County on the heels of many health districts expansion into Phase 1c, which is the final group of essential workers before the state shifts to Phase 2.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel -- and that light is getting brighter every day as more and more Virginians get vaccinated,” Northam said. “We continue to work with diverse providers and community partners across the Commonwealth to distribute vaccines in a fair and equitable way and ensure those at the highest risk are vaccinated first. Expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to put this pandemic behind us, and I thank all of the public health staff, health care workers, vaccinators, and volunteers who have helped make this possible.”
Vaccine czar: All health districts will move to Phase 1c by next week
Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s COVID Vaccine Coordinator, said the health districts that have not moved into Phase 1c, should be able to do so by next 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. "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.
Officials said that 21 of Virginia’s 35 local health districts have already started vaccinating essential workers in Phase 1c after providing appointments to those eligible in Phases 1a or 1b on the pre-registration list.
Additionally, officials said nearly every Virginian in the highest risk groups who has pre-registered for a vaccination appointment has received one. Those who are still waiting on the pre-registration list will be contacted to schedule their appointments within the next two weeks, according to officials.
However, officials pointed out that those at highest risk "will continue to receive priority in the scheduling process."
"Beginning April 4, districts that have invited everyone pre-registered in Phase 1c may invite members of the general public who have pre-registered," officials said. "Based on the supply projected by the federal government, all local health districts will have enough vaccine to open appointments to the general public by April 18."
Avula added that the number of appointments available at the start of Phase Two could depend on how quickly drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson replenishes the 15-million doses that were ruined.
"The first time that that article came out was one of my biggest freak out moments of this entire vaccine rollout. Because a lot of our plans for moving forward into 1C and Phase Two were largely dependent on the volume of Johnson & Johnson that we were anticipating next weekend in the coming weeks," said Avula.
He said after the initial news report, it was confirmed that Virginia's shipment next week of over 200,000 doses would not be impacted. However, Avula said he is still waiting to hear if the shipments in the weeks after would be affected.
"What it likely will change -- depending on how quickly the manufacturers can course correct -- how much we can see if that if that amount that we're expecting next week will continue into the following weeks throughout April," said Avula. "It just means that once we do go into Phase Two, which is general eligibility, how quickly are appointments available for that segment of the population."
RELATED: Preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine on the Vaccinate Virginia website or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343)
Check your email: Thousands in Phase 1c can set-up COVID-19 vaccination appointments
The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, the Chesterfield Health District, and the Chickahominy Health District announced Wednesday they were beginning to schedule the first round of Phase 1c eligible people for their COVID-19 vaccine appointments.
"This evening, up to 7,500 Phase 1c eligible individuals will receive an email from the CDC VAMS system that will allow them to log on and select an appointment," Cat Long, with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, said. "RHHD continues to offer vaccine opportunities for individuals eligible in Phases 1a and 1b while entering into Phase 1c."
Phase 1c includes essential workers in the following fields:
- Water, wastewater, and waste removal workers (includes recycling removal workers)
- Housing and Construction
- Food Service
- Transportation and Logistics
- Institutions of Higher Education Faculty/Staff
- Information Technology & Communication
- Legal Services
- Public Safety (engineers)
- Other Public Health Workers
“It is important that everyone who falls in one of the priority groups outlined in phases 1a-1c, including Virginians who are 65 and older, essential workers, and those 16-64 with underlying health conditions, get signed up on the state’s pre-registration list as soon as possible,” Avula said earlier this month.
Everyone interested in receiving a vaccination should pre-register at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682).