RICHMOND, Va. --Virginia has hit many COVID-19 vaccination milestones over the past several months, including one set by the White House, that aims to allow people to celebrate July 4th safely this year.
"Good for us! Go Virginia," Sydney Newman and Clare Swan chanted at Brown's Island in Richmond Sunday.
This Fourth of July, they celebrated more than just their independence.
"I'm so happy to do our part," they said.
They're part of a big milestone in the fight against COVID-19.
President Joe Biden wanted 70% of adults in the U.S. at least partially vaccinated by July 4th.
The goal was met by fewer than half of all states including Virginia.
"They got to get the COVID shot so we can come out and enjoy ourselves," said Denise Howard.
Howard and her sister-in-law, who are both fully vaccinated, toured the sights of Richmond Sunday, but they kept their masks handy just in case.
"That's just extra," Howard said. "When you get around certain people, you don't know who got the shots or not."
Newman and Swan echoed similar sentiments saying they were optimistic but still feeling a little on edge because of the coronavirus.
Their concerns came as the most contagious version of COVID-19, the Delta variant, has gained momentum "especially in communities that have low vaccination rates," according to Virginia's vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula.
He's worried most for areas where vaccine numbers lag which include minority and rural communities.
"We will see localized outbreaks through the summer, probably will surge even higher in the fall and winter," said Avula.
In Central Virginia, several localities still fall below less than 50% of adults fully vaccinated. That includes Richmond, Prince George, Dinwiddie, Petersburg, Hopewell, and Caroline.
Dr. Avula said improvement will take small, locally focused efforts.
"How do we craft the right messages? How do we engage people? We know there's no magic bullet that's all of a sudden going to get hundreds or thousands of people to get vaccinated," said Avula.
And as Richmonders navigated another Independence Day marked by a pandemic, Howard still found a way to tap into her patriotism.
"I feel freedom every day that I wake up and see a new day," she said.
Virginians age 12+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.