Virginia’s first positive case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 7, 2020. Since then, approximately 470,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed. The number of coronavirus patients throughout the Commonwealth, unfortunately, shows little signs of drastically declining in the immediate future. The City of Salem recently reported over a dozen new cases.
Since the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were approved for emergency use in December, Virginians have received more than one million doses. Within his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden said he intends on administering 100 million vaccine shots nationwide. Many people, including countless in Salem, have serious questions regarding the COVID-19 vaccine: Are they safe? Are there any side effects? How is it administered?
“Over the next few weeks, we will be working with healthcare systems, independent healthcare practices and retail pharmacies to identify the different options for individuals aged 75 or older to get registered for the vaccine,” Health Director for the Alleghany and Roanoke City Districts Dr. Cynthia Morrow said. “Such individuals can sign up through a survey link at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/roanoke/covid-vaccine/ to receive more information about vaccine opportunities as options emerge. Family members and caregivers can register on behalf of those who are unable to register themselves.”
Last weekend, over 2,000 teachers throughout the Roanoke Valley received a coronavirus vaccination at the Berglund Center in Roanoke. Dr. Morrow, in partnership with Carilion, coordinated the event. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Carilion collectively gave out approximately 6,000 shots over the three-day event.
Groups in 1a and 1b are eligible to get vaccinated in Virginia. To find out which category individuals fall under, the VDH created a vaccine questionnaire for people. Walgreens, CVS, Rite-Aid and certain other major pharmacies have announced they’ll be offering the COVID-19 vaccine to qualified individuals. Experts urge that only those with symptoms or possible exposure get swapped.
“It will take time, patience and flexibility for everyone who is in Phase 1b and who wants the COVID-19 vaccine to be able to receive it. This will not happen overnight. There is a great deal of planning and logistical work that still needs to be done to ensure that we are optimizing how many vaccines we can get into the arms of Virginians in our health districts,” said Dr. Morrow.
She continued, “At the same time, we are doing so in a way that ensures that health equity among those who are eligible to receive the vaccine. Because of differences in jurisdictions within our health districts, some areas may move into Phase 1b faster than others.”
Virginia is estimated to receive roughly 110,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each week for at least the next month. Multiple testing locations throughout the Roanoke Valley will be administering the vaccine. From 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on February 23 and March 23, a drive-thru testing event is scheduled to take place at the Salem Civic Center. More information can be found at vdh.virginia.gov.