While there are now two COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use in the U.S., Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines, it will take months to produce and distribute enough doses to vaccinate all Americans who wish to get vaccinated. The CDC approved a three-phase distribution plan; within each phase are additional subsets.
The decision was made to protect the most vulnerable because of the scarcity of the vaccine. The two groups being vaccinated first; frontline health professionals (those medical workers who are at high-risk for getting COVID-19) and residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. The virus has disproportionately impacted the elderly.
Phase 1 first get vaccines to adults 75 years old and older and frontline essential workers. After that adults 65-74 and those 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions as well as essential workers who were not included in the earlier phase. Then eventually the general public; however, Phase has not been completed yet. It remains essential for everybody to continue following COVID-19 prevention practices, such as mask-wearing, distancing and limiting time inside of public places until Phase III is completed.
- Phase 1a – Frontline health professionals and residents of nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.
- Phase 1b – Adults aged 75 and older and frontline essential workers.
- Phase 1c – Adults 65-74 and those 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions as well as essential workers not included in the earlier phase.
Virginia had expected to receive 480,000 doses from the federal government by the end of December, but that amount has been reduced by at least 109,000. On December 14, Virginia received its first vaccines–72,150 doses. The vaccines went to 18 hospitals across the state.
Both vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are newly approved and are beginning to ramp up production of the vaccine. As this is a pandemic, these vaccines are made for people across the world. Governor Ralph Northam welcomed the first shipments of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Virginia at Bon Secours hospital in Richmond.
“These initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are a much-needed symbol of hope for our Commonwealth and our country. With this remarkable medical achievement, we are beginning to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel,” Governor Ralph Northam said.
The governor witnessed the first shots administered to frontline health care workers. Virginia’s State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver says after Phase 1 is completed and vaccine supplies become more abundant, the public will start to be vaccinated.
The question of when remains to be seen, since how much vaccine the state will receive and when is a moving target. Dr. Oliver says Phase III could be in the summer.
To-date the Prince William Health District has not received any of the vaccines. The vaccines have been paid for by the American taxpayers. Therefore, residents will not pay for the vaccine, though some medical providers may charge for its administration.
More information about the COVID-19 vaccine is available at pwcgov.org/COVID19