Virginia Could Receive Vaccine Doses by Mid-December, Northam Says


Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said that initial doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could arrive in the state as early as mid-December.

During a coronavirus press briefing Wednesday afternoon, the governor shared details on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan instead of implementing new statewide restrictions.

“Assuming the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants Pfizer’s emergency-use request, vaccine doses will ship the states immediately. This could happen as early as mid-December just a couple weeks from now,” Northam said. “Virginia expects to get about 70,000 doses from Pfizer in the first wave, enough to give 70,000 individuals their first dose of the vaccine.”

In a virtual presentation to the House Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions on Monday, state epidemiologist Dr. Lilian Peake told legislators the allocation of vaccines by the Centers for Disease Control and Protections (CDC) is based on population instead of need, and that Virginia will receive 2.6 percent of the initial supply.

The state plans to vaccinate the 8.5 million people in Virginia through a three-phase approach. However, that process cannot begin until the FDA approves Pfizer’s emergency-use request and until the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) makes a recommendation for which groups should get the first doses.

Northam said during the briefing that ACIP voted Tuesday night “to put healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities first in line.”

Under the first phase of Virginia’s plan, the initial vaccines would be distributed through hospitals and CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, as part of a federal program, to vaccinate those recommended by the ACIP. Those vaccinations will happen at specifically set up clinics, called closed points of dispensing, for those targeted groups, according to Peake.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) estimated that there are roughly 500,000 healthcare workers and long-term care residents in the state.

“Early on with the vaccine there likely wouldn’t be enough for all healthcare workers and so that will have to be broken down into subgroups and we’re still working with the Virginia Healthcare and Hospital Association to determine that,” Peake told lawmakers. “The level to which it’s broken down is going to depend on how much vaccine we have and we don’t know that yet.”

To shorten the timeline between FDA approval and vaccinations, Peake said Virginia has identified 16 facilities with ultra-cold freezer capabilities to preposition the first doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which require extremely cold temperatures for storage.

The second phase, intended for just over 3 million Virginians who are medically vulnerable or other priority groups, vaccinations would be administered at pharmacies and open clinics throughout the state.

For the third and final phase, the general public and those not included in the first two stages, roughly 4.9 million people, will be able to receive doses from pharmacies as well as community vaccination partners.

“It will take several months to get people vaccinated,” the governor said. “For now and for some months to come we all need to continue doing the things that we know work: wearing a mask in public, washing our hands, staying away from crowds and large groups and trying as best we can to socialize outside.”

In terms of a potential vaccine mandate, which made headlines this summer when state health commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said he would put one in place, Peake said that is not something the VDH is considering at this point in time and that the vast majority of Virginians want to be vaccinated.

“The vaccine news is extremely, extremely hopeful,” Northam said. “It is the light at the end of this very long and dark tunnel. It is the only way we can solve this health crisis and the resulting economic crisis and get back to a normal way of life.”

– – –

Jacob Taylor is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Follow Jacob on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]








Related posts