RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Ralph Northam said Wednesday that COVID-19 vaccine doses could ship to Virginia as early as mid-December, assuming the Food and Drug Administration grants Pfizer's emergency use request.
Northam said Virginia expected to get about 70,000 doses from Pfizer in the first wave, enough to give 70,000 people their first dose of the vaccine. The governor said states expected more vaccines to become available as Moderna and other vaccine makers go through the FDA process.
Northam said it will take several months to get people vaccinated as the first shipments will go to healthcare workers and people living in long term care facilities.
Officials estimated about 500,000 people in Virginia fall into that category.
So with more people than vaccines, officials are determining who among that group goes first.
"We're working through that process now. We should have a decision by the end of the week," said state epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake.
Northam said he expected the vaccination efforts to wrap up by mid-summer and encouraged Virginians to roll up their sleeves when the time comes.
"When my turn comes, my family and I will have no hesitancy about getting vaccinated," he said. "I strongly encourage every Virginian to get the vaccine. That is our only path to getting back to that near normal, which we often speak about."
Northam did not announce any new COVID-related restrictions, but added all options remained on the table going forward—"particularly as we continue to evaluate the potential for a post-Thanksgiving surge."
He reiterated the need for people to take precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing, and avoiding large crowds.
"It is the biggest class project we've ever participated in," said Northam. "We all are responsible to each other and for the sake of our neighbors, our communities and our economy. We must continue to do the right thing."
Wednesday morning, the United Kingdom gave emergency use authorization (EUA) to the vaccine developed by the American drug company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a Dec. 10 public meeting scheduled to review the companies’ EUA request for the United States. For the latest COVID-19 data on Virginia and news about the virus, click here.
Virginia’s percent-positivity sits at 8.3% as of Wednesday, up from its most recent low of 4.7% in early October.