RICHMOND, Va. -- Front line workers, including staff who work in childcare centers and homeless shelters, are next in line to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the Metro Richmond area.
The Virginia Department of Health said starting Monday, certain front line workers in much of Central Virginia, including the Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, and Chickahominy Health Districts would become eligible to receive the vaccine.
VDH said the first priorities in Phase 1B include police, fire, hazmat, corrections, and homeless shelter workers, as well as teachers and childcare workers.
Jenn Patterson serves as program manager of the CARITAS Woman’s Emergency Shelter on the city’s Southside. The pandemic increased the challenges for staff tasked with housing the homeless.
“It’s highly populated areas our staff are working in and granted we are taking every precaution we can,” Patterson explained. “You’re really risking yourself and your family in the venture of helping your neighbors, helping your homeless neighbors.”
That increased risk of exposure for COVID-19 helped the state’s leaders designate homeless shelter employees among the first in the state to receive the vaccine.
“I’m so excited that we are next in line to get that vaccine to not only protect them but their families,” Patterson stated.
Ann Andrade owns Primrose School at Atlee Commons in Hanover County. For months, childcare employees have worked to allow other essential workers to continue working.
“So many of our parents are essential workers. They really need the care to be able to do what they do,” Andrade said.
Andrade credits her staff’s determination for keeping their center coronavirus free.
“I think that’s a huge statement to the entire staff and just all banding together,” she explained.
While she admitted that some of her employees have apprehension with getting the vaccine, Andrade said she is looking forward to receiving her dose.
Under Phase 1A, healthcare workers and employees and residents of long-term care facilities received their doses first.
People who fell under the new Phase 1B categories could receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at one of three large scale regional vaccination clinics beginning next week, according to VDH.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced in his State of the Commonwealth address Wednesday night that the state will "quickly" move forward with opening up COVID-19 vaccinations to people 65 and older.
In Virginia, people in the 65 and older category and those under that age with COVID-19 co-morbidities fall under Phase 1C of its vaccine rollout plan.
VDH has set up a questionnaire to help residents determine when it’s their turn to get vaccinated.
Currently, only 11 health districts are in Phase 1B, while the rest remain in Phase 1a.
However, the health districts covering the metro Richmond-area announced they would be moving into Phase 1B starting Monday.