State epidemiologist gives insight to how Virginia will operate after public emergency is lifted

Published: Apr. 14, 2023 at 7:51 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - In less than a month, the federal public health emergency declaration will be lifted.

Over the last three years, the declaration has allowed greater access to testing and vaccines.

However, ways to get vaccines, testing and treatments for Covid-19 are subject to change after May 11.

“Vaccines, those will remain readily available for people and for some time they’ll be available with no cost-sharing for the person, that coverage might change over time but for now that’s what’s in place,” Dr. Laurie Forlano, state epidemiologist for the Virginia Department of Health said.

Dr. Forlano said the number of places offering COVID testing may decrease, but she says Virginia will continue to support some at-home test kit programs.

She said there is still some confusion with the number of vaccines available what is actually needed.

“The recommendations right now are that anyone ages six months and up have that primary vaccine series and then one updated bivalent booster dose,” Dr. Forlano said.

She said there are different products and brands when it comes to COVID vaccines so it’s best to check your vaccination card or talk to your doctor about which vaccines you need.

Dr. Forlano said the pandemic pushed public health to emerge, creating more ways to collect and share data and new science.

“All of those components of the public health response have really been well practiced over the last three years, a lot of it was already in place but not at the scale that we required for COVID-19,” Dr. Forlano said.

She said if another public health emergency were to happen, she believes the Commonwealth is well prepared.

“COVID is here to stay. Very grateful that were in a much better place now than we were two or three years ago but it’s important that people continue to take precautions and prevention steps to prevent getting ill,” she said.