NORFOLK, Va. - The number of people vaccinated with at least one dose has now surpassed the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Virginia.
More than 497,000 people have now gotten a first dose of the vaccine, compared to more than 483,000 confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic, although experts have long said the actual number of cases is higher than the number confirmed.
Still, experts say the more people vaccinated the better off everyone is. "We should start to see some effect from that first dose, not as good as when we've got people with both doses, but there's going to be an effect," said Dr. Edward Oldfield from Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Going forward, experts say everyone still needs to remain cautious, especially now that a new more contagious British strain of the virus has now been found in Virginia. "This is absolutely not the time to let your guard down and have COVID-19 fatigue. COVID-19 fatigue is going to get you in the hospital," said Oldfield.
The good news is the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines appear to still be effective against the this British strain, but it remains unclear whether the strain causes more severe infection, said Oldfield. "Now we have the potential to have a more infectious variant in the state of Virginia, so even more important is masking, social distancing, and not being indoors with people that are not part of your household unit," he said.
This week several communities in Hampton Roads entered Phase 1b of vaccination. There's been frustration about the rollout, but it's going to take time to get everyone vaccinated. "I think the problem is the state of Virginia just isn't getting as much vaccine as we could use," said Oldfield.
In terms of COVID-19, health districts in Hampton Roads all remain above ten-percent positivity, but the numbers are mostly lower compared to a few weeks ago. "I think we may be starting to turn the corner on this winter surge," said Oldfield.
Click here for a list of local areas and how each is planning vaccine rollouts.