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22,000 people on Chesterfield COVID-19 vaccine waitlist: 'It will possibly be months'

Posted at 11:51 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 08:25:12-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Approximately 22,000 people have signed up to be placed on the Chesterfield Health District’s COVID-19 vaccine waiting list, according to Emergency Planner David Woods.

“You see how many of your folks want vaccinated,” Woods told the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors during a vaccination update on Wednesday.

The sign-up form was activated on Monday after an admittedly rocky start for vaccination efforts in the county.

“The lists of tasks we have to address is growing literally every day, much of which is a function of having been thrown into this rather quickly,” Chesterfield Health District (CHD) District Director Dr. Alexander Samuel explained during the presentation. “Every health district right now is overwhelmed with calls.”

Dr. Samuel said a backdoor loophole in the CDC-created registration system (VAMS) allowed for individuals ineligible for a vaccine to sign up anyway.

That system has now been discontinued.

CHD has also added additional staff in their call centers and corrected a glitch that put people on hold for hours.

The large number of sign-ups does not include those who have already registered either via email or through the phone.

Woods assured that the lists will be combined when a new system called PrepMod goes online next week.

But the reality is: there are simply not enough vaccines to match the number of citizens who want one.

“Despite the best systems and the best plans we have until the vaccine pipeline opens up it will possibly be months to until we get through the list of those who desire to have a needle stuck in their arm,” Woods said.

The county receives about 4,600 doses per week, according to Samuel. That number is far below the doses they had hoped and planned for.

Approximately 1,200 doses per week will go to Chesterfield County Public Schools as educators on the elementary level prepare to return in-person on Monday.

The Chesterfield Health District also serves Powhatan County and the City of Colonial Heights.

Bermuda District Supervisor Jim Ingle said they need to work to change citizens’ expectations.

“There are citizens that believe there’s plenty of vaccines out there and they’re just not able to get it here, but they can get it somewhere else. That’s not really what’s going on in the state,” Ingle stated. “We aren’t talking about weeks. We are talking about months.”

Based on a limited supply of the vaccine the CHD is currently vaccinating groups Phase 1A and 1B, which account for about half of Virginia’s population.

Chesterfield health officials said the county is still inoculating healthcare workers who are part of Phase 1A.

Many of the current Points of Dispensing (PODs) are staffed with retired, current and student health professionals.

Individuals who would like to assist with the state’s vaccination efforts can volunteer through the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps. Volunteers without medical experience will be assigned to clerical work or helping staff clinics.