Valley health departments prep for when COVID vaccine becomes available
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — A COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated to be available by the end of the year or early next year. Local health departments say they’re prepared to get the vaccine out to the public.
Each year, health departments test their ability to quickly distribute vaccines to large groups of people, using points of dispensing exercises. Dr. Laura Kornegay, the Health Director for the Central Shenandoah Health District, said they have been successful in largely distributing vaccines for the flu and other widespread viruses, like H1N1.
When a COVID-19 vaccine does become available, Dr. Kornegay noted it will be distributed in phases.
“The first phases would be to folks who are first-line providers, such as health care workers who would have most exposure to COVID, along with our most vulnerable populations, such as nursing home residents and the elderly with chronic diseases,” Dr. Kornegay said.
Aside from ongoing preparations to distribute the vaccine, Dr. Kornegay said communication with the public is also an important part of being ready.
“Communications to the public about everything they need to know about how to obtain the vaccine, where they can get it, the schedule of which it will be distributed,” Dr. Kornegay said.
She is also encouraging everyone to get a flu vaccine this year to decrease the chance for a surge on hospitals that could happen with COVID and a bad flu season.
“With flu vaccines, we see this as, kind of, our practice to the upcoming COVID vaccine, so we’re going to hone our skills and abilities to distribute the flu vaccines effectively in anticipation of getting the COVID vaccine,” Dr. Kornegay said.
And when the COVID vaccine is available, Dr. Kornegay recommends that everyone gets that as well.
“That’s going to be our best defense against the continued transmission of COVID, and it offers our best ability to get past a lot of these mitigation strategies that have been challenging. Things like social distancing and decreasing gatherings. With being able to develop a large immunity in our population, hopefully, we can get back to more normal functioning in the future,” Dr. Kornegay said.
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