STAUNTON, Va. (WFXR) — Although several health districts in Virginia have moved into Phase 1b of COVID-19 vaccinations, the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) will remain in Phase 1a.
In December, CSHD began offering closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1a” priority groups. Phase 1a is the first group eligible to receive the vaccine and includes health system personnel with direct contact or a high risk of contact with COVID-positive patients. Phase 1a also includes long-term care residents and staff that are being vaccinated through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens.
The director of CSHD says that the health district is large and diverse, spanning more than 2,000 square miles across the Shenandoah Valley. Due to the size of the area, vaccines may reach some locations quicker than others.
“Our goal is to get as many people in the phased priority groups vaccinated as quickly as possible. Because of the differences in populations in the five counties and five cities that make up the district, when the district enters Phase 1b vaccines may reach some areas more quickly than others. We should also expect overlap in the phases as we work through the vaccination process.”Dr. Laura Kornegay, Health Director for CSHD
Although the CSHD is currently in Phase 1a, health officials are actively planning for Phase 1b.
Phase 1b is the second group eligible to receive the vaccine. Those included under Phase 1b include police, fire, and hazmat response personnel, those living and working in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, childcare/K-12 teachers and staff, food and agriculture workers, manufacturers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, mail carriers (USPS and private), anyone age 65 and older, and individuals 16-64 years old with high-risk medical conditions.
As availability of the vaccine increases, Virginia will move to the other phases. Phase 1c will include other essential workers. The complete definitions of all phases, data and other information, are on VDH’s Vaccine Response website. Anyone can use this brief eligibility tool to find out which vaccination phase they fall under.
Virginians who do not fall into priority phases will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available. Once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine.