VDH pushes to get people vaccinated ahead of summer travel, working with schools to get students vaccinated

Coronavirus

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/WFXR) — Mass vaccination sites have helped to inoculate people in the Commonwealth, but health officials say there has been a drop in the number of people wanting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says it’s looking at ways to reach more people ahead of the summer travel season. We’re told one idea is working with schools to get eligible students vaccinated.

The latest data from Virginia’s vaccine dashboard shows 43% of the population has at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, officials said there’s a bump in road to herd immunity.

“We are beginning to see, unfortunately, a drop in vaccine interest, so where will be in three to four weeks is definitely going to dictate our next steps,” said Dr. Parham Jaberi with the VDH.

As the weather warms up, officials know social gatherings will pick up, too.

“One of the potential concerns around graduation time is high school seniors may be traveling, maybe coming together, so they may be at a slightly higher risk of spreading the illness to loved ones,” Jaberi said.

The VDH wants to focus more on schools and possibly work with campuses in Virginia Beach and Norfolk to get students ages 16-18 vaccinated before graduation season.

“Those are just preliminary conversations we just started yesterday and today with respective school boards,” said Jaberi.

VDH also hopes to strengthen its partnerships with faith-based communities by hosting smaller vaccine events at churches.

“We really need to collaborate with them and for them to share the message about vaccinations. It needs to come from their trusted partner,” said Jaberi.

Officials said each shot is one step closer to a return to normalcy. They’re encouraging the public to do their part.

“When we develop herd immunity and when we prevent ourselves from being infected, we also prevent the virus from evolving and becoming a variant strain,” Jaberi said.

According to the vaccine dashboard, 29% of the population in Virginia is fully vaccinated. Officials say the goal for herd immunity is about 75%.

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