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As Virginia nears vaccination goal, health districts increase accessibility

Posted at 4:02 PM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 17:19:25-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- As of Monday, the Virginia Department of Health reports 68.1% of people over the age of 18 in the state have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 shot.

For those in that age group in the health districts covering the Metro-Richmond area, 60.3% have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

By district, the percentages are as follows:

  • Henrico Health District (Henrico County): 67.5%
  • Chickahominy Health District (Hanover County, New Kent County, Goochland County, and Charles City County): 66.1%
  • Chesterfield Health District (Chesterfield County, Powhatan County, and the City of Colonial Heights) : 63.1%
  • Richmond Health District (the City of Richmond): 52.1%
  • Crater Health District (The City of Emporia, the City of Hopewell, the City of Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Greensville County, Prince George County, Surry County, and Sussex County): 45.2%

George and Dinwiddie.

"We're going to do our best to reach that number. If we don't, we'll continue to push even after that number. We know that this is an ongoing thing," Jay Baxter, Crater Health District's Chief Operating Officer, said.

Like the rest of the state, Baxter says the demand has slowed recently, something he says started with the pause on the Johnson & Johnson in April. In an effort to increase acceptance, he says the health district tries to offer all three approved vaccines at events and they have increased efforts to educate the public about the need to get one.

"Boots on the ground approach to do a lot of canvassing. We've shifted to smaller clinics, we don't do any of the large clinics anymore. We've opened up our weekly immunization clinics as well," Baxter said.

In the Chesterfield Health District, which encompasses Chesterfield and Powhatan counties and the city of Colonial Heights, 63.1% of its 18+ population has gotten at least one dose.

"Of course, we are striving to cross that finish line, you know, along with the whole state by July 4th," Dr. Alexander Samuel, Chesterfield Health District's Director, said.

Samuel said that similar to statewide trends, there's been a slower uptake in vaccination rates in rural areas.

"Portions of Western Chesterfield to Powhatan County, we don't see the same number of individuals, you know, availing themselves to the vaccine. We're trusting that over time that will change," Samuel said.

He said that the health district has recently shifted more of their focus to vulnerable populations and have started to bring the vaccine into those communities to remove any travel hurdles.

"This is a long game for us. We want to get above that 70% mark to as many people as possible who desire to get vaccinated," Samuel said.