'I feel like Chesterfield is being left out,' woman says about vaccine rollout

'Getting an answer to a call on that hotline is next to impossible'
Posted at 5:15 PM, Jan 22, 2021

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Frustration and anger are the two primary emotions Chesterfield resident Kathy Heath feels right now.

"I've been trying to get information for my parents so that they may be vaccinated," Heath said.

She lives in Midlothian and thought her parents, who are in their late 70s and have underlying health conditions, would be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine under phase 1b.

But, every time she calls the Chesterfield Health District to sign them up she can't get an answer.

"Getting an answer to a call on that hotline is next to impossible," Heath said. "I've been on hold for 2.5 hours on more than one occasion."

Then she turns on the TV and sees Governor Ralph Northam attending a mass vaccination clinic at the Richmond International Raceway for school staff and members of law enforcement in the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, and the Chickahominy Health District, which includes Hanover and Goochland.

"I feel like Chesterfield is being left out," Heath said. "We're seeing the Governor doing his photo ops at the raceway and it's making me really upset to hear him talking about how great things are going when I don't see things are going at all in Chesterfield."

According to the Henrico County's Chief of Emergency Management, Jackson Baynard, the Chesterfield Health District was originally going to participate in the Raceway effort, but decided to go with a different approach.

Heath wants to know what that approach involves.

"It is completely unclear to me whether Chesterfield is sitting on a store of vaccine," Heath said.

WTVR CBS 6 reached out to Doctor Alexander Samuel who heads up the Chesterfield Health District, but have yet to hear back.

Samuel did write an email to Heath where he said his office is ramping up call center staff and highlighted that vaccine supply to all states has been significantly curtailed.

Still, Heath's representative on the Board of Supervisors, Leslie Haley, hears her concerns.

"I think the first thing I will say is we're right there with you," Haley said. "We've been pretty loud, we have been in very direct communication with all of our state delegation to say we feel like we're being underserved and our citizens are being underserved, we feel like there is a breakdown going on here."

Haley said county leaders were told Thursday the Chesterfield Health District will receive 4,625 vaccines per week starting next week.

John Vithoulkas, the County Manager in Henrico, said the Richmond and Health Districts will receive roughly 6,400 combined per week.

Haley said the county has a site at the Chesterfield fairgrounds ready to go for a mass vaccination clinic if they can get enough shots.

"We were really really hopeful this week would be able to get it up and rolling and then found out we had an incredibly limited supply of vaccines," Haley said.

Also of note, the small supply of vaccines being distributed.

At the current distribution rate, Chesterfield County leaders said it could take 6 months to vaccinate everyone who wants it.

Depend on CBS 6 News and for the most complete coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Precautions

Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.

COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.

Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.