Virginia’s vaccine leader says focus now is on primary care providers

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Many Virginians who wanted to get a vaccine have now had a chance to sign up for one. But what about the remaining, eligible Virginians who are not vaccinated? And what about the kids not yet able to get a shot? Those are the people the state is turning its attention to now.

Virginia’s state vaccine leader Dr. Danny Avula made that the focus of his call with reporters Friday. He said Virginia has made it through most of the pre-registered folks who signed up for a vaccine. Starting next week, they’ll begin winding down the mass vaccination clinics - starting with the one in Danville.

As of Friday, 6.19 million Virginians had been vaccinated. That means 44.3% of the total population has had at least one dose, which means 57% of eligible Virginians have had at least one dose.

So where to next?

Dr. Avula said they’re focusing on primary care providers like your doctors and the state, along with the federal government, is making the vaccine easier for those doctors to get and to give vaccine.

“Pfizer as probably the most significant example, typically comes in trays of 1170 doses,” Dr. Avula said. “Starting in May they are going to significantly reduce that. I think in some cases it’s gonna be 460 doses and in some cases it’ll actually 150 dose packages, and so that will make it more and more possible for smaller group practices to be able to receive vaccine.”

And on their part, Dr. Avula said the state’s health leaders are looking to get creative on increasing access to the vaccine in areas where interest has dropped off.

“As I talk to my colleagues around the country, we’re all kind of sharing best practices with each other with you know, setting up vaccination at a farmer’s market or at upcoming elections,” he said. “So I think these are the kinds of things you’ll see more and more of because of convenience is such an important piece of the equation right now.”

The other focus will be on the schools. Dr. Avula expects emergency use authorization for vaccines for kids 12 and up by mid to late May.

Most health departments have already reached out to school systems and he’s planning to meet with the superintendents in the coming week.

“To just talk them through the options so that once we do get the announcement we get approval,” he said, “we hopefully have what, a three week window before schools go out for the summer so there may be a real opportunity to do on-site school based vaccinations.”

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