Hampton Roads Moves Into Next Phase Of COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
More people across Hampton Roads will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting this week, officials say.
The Hampton and Peninsula Health District on Friday will begin Phase 1b of its vaccination rollout for frontline workers and people who are 75 or older or live in congregate settings.
Next week, the Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Western Tidewater health districts will also start Phase 1b for frontline essential workers — like grocery store and public transit employees — anyone 65 or older and people between 16 and 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions.
Hampton Roads localities until now have limited vaccines to healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities as part of its Phase 1a. Residents in 1a will still have opportunities to receive the vaccine.
“Our staff has done an exceptional job planning for this vaccine rollout and strives to continue to provide exceptional service to the localities we serve just as we have done through the entire pandemic,” said Lauren James, interim director of the Western Tidewater Health District.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, about 354,300 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the two available vaccines. Virginia Beach leads the Hampton Roads area with 13,300 doses administered so far. Cities plan to move to other phases of their rollouts once more vaccines become available.
“While the vaccine brings us steps closer to ending this pandemic, it will still be months before it is widely available to the general public,” said Dr. Demetria M. Lindsay, the director of the Virginia Beach and Norfolk health districts. “Continuing to adhere to COVID-19 prevention practices remains very important as we work our way through the vaccination process.”
The second phase of the vaccine rollout comes amid worries about the rate of vaccinations in Hampton Roads.
Members of the Hampton Roads Planning Commission District sent Gov. Ralph Northam a letter Thursday asking that the state speed up vaccinations.
One of their concerns was that areas with lower-income, disadvantaged populations could have less access to vaccines than health districts with more resources.
New research also indicates there could be hesitancy among some people to receive the vaccines. Survey data gathered through Facebook by Carnegie Mellon University’s Delphi Lab shows that parts of Hampton Roads with larger Black populations could have fewer people who want the vaccine.
Northam has said he wants to ramp up vaccinations statewide, setting an ambitious goal to ultimately vaccinate 50,000 Virginians each day. Currently, the state gives just over 19,000 COVID shots a day.