To meet vaccine goal, Virginia to focus on young populations

Posted at 5:59 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 18:22:06-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for those ages 12 to 15two weeks ago, State Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula says 12.5%, or over 52,000, of Virginians in that age group, have gotten the shot.

"That's a really, really big step for just over a week of vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds, we will continue to press on as we march towards community immunity here," Avula said.

Avula adds Virginia will likely reach President Biden's goal of 70% of all adults getting at least one dose by the Fourth of July. He says the state needs to vaccinate around 343,000 more people in that group.

"So, that's about 8,000 a day and we have been tracking a good bit better than that over the last week, around 20,000, a little over that per day," Avula said.

However, in order to reach 70% for the entire population in the state, Avula says it may take the vaccines being approved for even younger groups.

He adds the state also needs to convince more people between 16 and 30 to get the shot, saying it's around 40%. He thinks that taking this step may be more about ease than hesitancy, noting that some departments are starting to set up clinics outside bars or baseball games.

"Those kinds of strategies have just put this front and center for a younger demographic who's not going to go out of their way to get vaccinated," Avula said.

When asked about the possibility of incentives for getting the vaccine like in other states, including lotteries, Avula said that they are being discussed, but that there is still some hesitation.

"I think there's some hesitation, at least on my part, personally, to overly rely on incentives for something that is inherently good. And I don't want to set a precedent that we can't meet with all other types of vaccinations moving forward," Avula said.

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