WATCH: Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts’ Dr. Morrow provides COVID, vaccination update

Coronavirus

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — With the holidays approaching, Dr. Cynthia Morrow shared the latest information about COVID-19 data and current vaccination efforts for the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts on Wednesday morning.

You can read a copy of the data Dr. Morrow shared during her Zoom briefing below:

The director of the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts says that school superintendents are hearing stories that some people are avoiding getting tested when they become symptomatic because they want to avoid isolation or quarantine. If this happens — and people go to school or work when infected — this can contribute to the ongoing spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Morrow also answered some questions — including two from a WFXR News viewer — that came up after her news conference:

  • Do people who have had COVID-19 infection need to be vaccinated?  
    • “YES! Natural immunity wanes over time. We strongly encourage everyone 5 years or older to get vaccinated, regardless of whether they have had COVID infection or not. This is particularly important based on what we know and what we anticipate with Omicron.”
  • Has anyone made a correlation of vaccinated people and when they last were vaccinated and got COVID to see how long the vaccination may last? Or is that relevant?
    • “Yes, over time, both natural immunity and vaccination immunity wane.  Current evidence shows that vaccine immunity is stronger/ more robust/ more predictable than natural immunity.  The two month recommendation for booster after J&J and the six month after the mRNA vaccines recommendation are both based on the timing of the waning immunity.

This online briefing comes after the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 3,135 new COVID-19 cases and 33 new virus-related deaths around the Commonwealth as of Wednesday, Dec. 15. However, the number of virus-related hospitalizations dropped by 115 since Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Of those numbers, the VDH says 160 new COVID-19 cases, two new hospitalizations, and seven new deaths are from the following localities within the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts:

  • Alleghany County: 17 new cases
  • Botetourt County: 21 new cases
  • Covington: Zero new cases
  • Craig County: Three new cases
  • Roanoke City: 43 new cases, one new hospitalization, and two new deaths
  • Roanoke County: 54 new cases, one new hospitalization, and two new deaths
  • Salem: 22 new cases and three new deaths

Meanwhile, the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are offering COVID-19 vaccination opportunities in the coming weeks at various clinics, which are listed below:

To set up a vaccine appointment or to learn more about vaccination efforts within the health districts, click here.

The VDH’s free Community Vaccination Center is also open at the former Sears site at the Valley View Mall in Roanoke from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The center is ready to provide free Pfizer, Moderna, and J&J vaccines and boosters to adult visitors, as well as the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5 to 11.

According to Dr. Morrow, approximately 3,400 vaccines have been administered to the 5- to 11-year-old population — including 223 last week — at the Community Vaccination Center in Roanoke.

The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts say the VDH recommends Pfizer boosters for those 16 and older and Moderna boosters for those 18 and older as long as you received your initial shots at least six months ago. If you got the J&J vaccine, boosters are advised for those age 18 and older who were vaccinated at least two months ago.

People who qualify can schedule a booster dose appointment at their pharmacy or health department clinic by visiting the VDH vaccine website.

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