Update: New VDH form allows residents to register to be alerted when they are eligible to receive the vaccine. Click to register.
Prince William County, along with the rest of Northern Virginia, is one of 11 jurisdictions that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has authorized to begin Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccinations the week of January 11. While the Prince William Health District (PWHD) remains focused on vaccinating those in the 1a group, it will begin gradually adding vaccination opportunities for:
- Frontline essential workers, to include K-12 teachers
- People age 75 and older
- People living in congregant settings (correctional facilities, homeless shelters or migrant labor camps)
Overlap of vaccination of groups will help more people to be vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. (Visit the VDH vaccine webpage to see which group you fall within, as well as other important information.)
Process Will Still Take Time
Getting groups 1a and 1b vaccinated will still take time, and scheduling will remain dependent on access to supply and staffing among other logistical challenges. The amount of vaccine available in the United States is still very limited, but is expected to increase gradually over the next months. Currently the federal government is allocating about 110,000 doses of vaccine to Virginia a week.
On Wednesday, the Governor authorized the National Guard to assist in the process. It is likely that it will take several months to complete 1b vaccinations. There is not an online registration portal, with the exception of one for healthcare workers in group 1a, who should be receiving instructions on how to schedule an appoint with Inova. (Medical offices can register for this notification here.)
For most in the 1b group, details and partnerships are being finalized, and will be made available through a variety of channels as soon as possible. Local health departments, pharmacies, healthcare systems, and employer-based occupational health units will work collaboratively to vaccinate frontline essential workers. Most in this group will likely be vaccinated through employer-based clinics. Check with your employer for details.
Those not receiving the vaccine through an employer will get it through PWHD or through arrangements with pharmacies and healthcare providers. Information will be coming out from local health departments, employers, and healthcare providers about how and when you can receive your COVID-19 vaccine.
Those in the 1c group (check criteria here), should have access to vaccines by early spring, if not sooner. It is anticipated that the general public, who do not fall into these priorities groups, should be able to receive vaccines by this summer. VDH will continue posting updates to its vaccine website, and is adding new features and information regularly.
During the vaccine rollout, all Virginians are asked to continue following COVID safety protocols. Masking, distancing and frequent handwashing. It is possible that people who have been vaccinated may still be asymptomatic carriers who can transit the virus, and large portions of our population will not be vaccinated for some time.
Accelerating Distribution in Virginia
Additional actions to accelerate the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution program, announced by the Governor this week include:
- Vaccination goal. Governor Northam set an initial goal of vaccinating 25,000 Virginians each day when supply allows.
- ‘Use it or lose it’ model. Medical facilities will be required to use doses ASAP, or risk having future allotments reduced.
- Danny T.K. Avula to lead vaccination efforts in Virginia. The Richmond City and Henrico County Health Departments Director will coordinate work between state officials, local health departments, hospitals, and private providers.
- Expanded priority groups. K-12 teachers and child care workers will be among the next priority groups to receive vaccinations after Group A, and outlined the populations that will be included in Groups B and C.
- Elevating the Virginia National Guard. As the Commonwealth receives more doses, the Virginia National Guard will provide logistical support and help local health departments administer vaccines.
“Getting Virginians vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to end this pandemic, rebuild our economy, and move our Commonwealth forward,” said Governor Northam. “By setting clear goals and appointing Dr. Avula to spearhead our vaccination program, we will have a clear vision of how this effort—the largest public vaccination campaign in modern history—is progressing. I plan to get vaccinated when my turn comes, and I encourage Virginians to do the same.”