RICHMOND, Va. -- The state's vaccine coordinator held a briefing Thursday to discuss Virginia's early planning for the eventual rollout of COVID-19 booster shots.
The update comes a day after federal health leaders said they want to start administering third doses for those who received either Pfizer or Moderna in late September.
Dr. Danny Avula said while several agencies, like the Food and Drug Administration and the Center for Disease and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, need to sign off on the plan -- if things do start up on Sept. 20, federal health leaders have been promised their will be enough vaccine supply.
"That means this will be very different scenario than what we were working with from December to March," Avula said. "Because our biggest issue at that point was not having enough supply and that led to a lot of confusion and concern on the part of the public. This will not be that. We will have enough supply and whenever people become eligible, they will have access to a vaccine."
The doctor added that a small group will be eligible at first: those healthcare workers and long-term care residents who received the first doses in the state. However, things will peak at the end of the year.
"Our peak of vaccination is going to be about 320,000 eligible people for this shot, and that'll come the week of Dec. 26th," Avula said.
Handling that influx should not be a problem, according to Avula, since he said the the state's output, even after removing mass vaccination clinics, surpassed 500,000 in a week.
"We were able to deliver through various channels through pharmacies, providers, health departments and health systems," Avula explained.
Avula said that over the next few days the health department will be working with localities to ensure the infrastructure is there and hire contractors if needed.
But he added that as people become eligible, eight months after their second dose, they do not need to rush out immediately.
"Your protection through vaccination doesn't drop off overnight. It is a slowly waning decrease in effectiveness," Avula said.
Additionally, Avula said that while boosters and third doses have recently dominated the headlines, reaching the unvaccinated remains a priority.
"People getting that first dose is actually way more important in the long run to progressing beyond this pandemic," Avula said. "We really need people who have not yet been vaccinated to get there."
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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.