Vaccinations in Virginia Are Lagging Behind Distributed Doses


Coronavirus vaccination efforts by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) have been ongoing since December 15, but the number of administered doses is significantly less than the amount distributed throughout the Commonwealth.

According to the COVID-19 vaccine dashboard, as of Thursday, Virginia has distributed 388,100 doses, but only 64,882 have actually been administered so far.

On Wednesday, VDH Director of Division of Immunization Christy Gray, discussed the numbers on a call with reporters.

“We are pleased with our progress [overall], but we have a long way to go and I think we will continue to get more efficient,” Gray said. “We’ve been planning for so long to get all of these moving pieces in place and now that it’s working, we’re getting more efficient about it [and] we’re getting used to all of these systems interacting with each other. So, at first it is expected to be slower, but I think it will get much quicker as we move along.” 

However, Gray did acknowledge that there are currently several factors impacting the large difference between doses administered versus distributed.

One such factor has to deal with logistical considerations, such as the ultra-cold storage requirement for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Also, lots of front-line healthcare personnel do not work in areas with large health systems or hospitals, so vaccines need to be sent to local health departments who then have to identify those workers and set up clinics to vaccinate them, Gray said.

Another reason is that Virginia has received roughly 100,000 fewer vaccine doses from Operation Warp Speed than the originally anticipated 480,000, and that caused the VDH to update their administration plans to reflect the lower numbers, according to Gray.

When the announcement was first made on December 18, the VDH did not offer a specific reason for the reduction, but Gray said the calculation of available vaccines was made using the wrong numbers. The government had used the number of total vaccines being manufactured, not the number that had completely gone through the data quality process and were ready to be shipped.

Additionally, the numbers displayed by the VDH dashboard will always be slightly less than the actual figures because the data comes from the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS), which relies on the providers who actually administer vaccines to enter the information into VIIS, according to Gray.

“We do expect that the number of doses administered is actually higher, but we do have to wait for that information to come in,” Gray said. “We are working with our providers if they are having any issues in entering this information into our registry and troubleshooting those issues as they come up.”

In other news, residents and staff of long-term care facilities – the other priority group in Phase 1a – that opted into the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program should have started receiving vaccinations this week from CVS and Walgreens teams onsite. 

As the state’s effort moves forward, health officials warn it will take several months for other priority groups, like essential workers, and the general public to get vaccinated so the VDH is asking people to continue following health and safety protocols in the meantime.

In Virginia, there have been 349,584 COVID cases – 293,446 confirmed and 56,138 probable. Furthermore, there have been over 5,000 deaths from the virus. Also, 18,041 hospitalizations have occurred, but a note says that figure under-represents the total number, according to the VDH COVID-19 daily dashboard.

Currently, 2,388 patients who are confirmed positive for COVID are hospitalized, up from 2,231 on Monday, and that figure has been steadily rising since the end of September. As of Thursday, ICU occupancy including surge beds is 56 percent, but the number of total beds dropped from 3,071 on Monday to 2633, according to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association COVID dashboard.

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








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