New River Health District director urges public to be patient, demand for COVID-19 vaccine outpaces supply


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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The health director for the New River Health District urges the public to be patient as COVID-19 vaccines are slowly administered to people in the Phase 1b priority group.

Dr. Noelle Bissell, the health director for the district, says the current demand for a vaccine outpaces the district’s supply.

“We don’t have enough vaccine for everybody who is seeking it right now,” she said during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20. “We are asking for some grace right now. We have been at this nonstop for 10 months and counting. We will vaccinate everyone, but it’s not going to be today or this week or this month.”

Bissell said the district orders about 5,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) per week, but it typically receives only 2,500 doses, based on available supply from manufacturers.

Currently, the district is vaccinating people in Phase 1b, which includes teachers, emergency services providers, police, and others who work in jobs that interact directly with the public. This group also includes people age 75 and older.

Bissell estimated that it will be a couple of months before the district can offer vaccines for Phase 1c. She said if more vaccine supply becomes available, the district will move more quickly.

People who fall in phase 1b should pre-register for a vaccine at or by calling the district’s vaccine hotline at (540) 838-8322. The district will contact people to schedule a vaccination appointment.

She reminds people that once they receive a COVID-19 vaccine, they should continue to follow public health guidelines.

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