Eastern Shore Health Vaccinates Employees at 81 Businesses as of Feb. 21; J&J Doses Come to the Shore

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By Carol Vaughn –

The Eastern Shore Health District in addition to other COVID-19 pandemic-related work has vaccinated employees of 81 local businesses and agencies eligible under Phases 1a and 1b.
There were another 77 businesses waiting for employee vaccinations as of Feb. 21, when the district, in response to a Freedom of Information Act inquiry, detailed which businesses requested employee vaccinations for and which already have been vaccinated.
Some clinics were held since then.
“This list grows daily and not all those on the list to be vaccinated are in the current phase,” said Jon Richardson, Eastern Shore Health District chief operating officer, in an email.
“We are working as I write this to put together a clinic which will cover the vast majority of those left in the food and ag sector. That will happen later this week,” Richardson said.
The list did not name small businesses that have only one or a few employees, in order to not violate health privacy regulations.
Most of those are small agriculture or aquaculture operations, Richardson said.
“I hope this helps illustrate the complexities faced by our team here at the HD and their extreme effort in putting these lists together to try to get our community vaccinated as equitably as possible,” he said.
Employers whose employees were vaccinated include doctors; dentists; optometrists; physical therapy businesses; home health businesses; several pharmacies; and funeral homes — all eligible in Phase 1a.
Also vaccinated were Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods employees; volunteer fire company members; state, county, NASA Wallops, and town law enforcement agencies; Accomack and Northampton sheriff’s office and jail staff; daycare providers; preschools; counseling and behavioral health care organizations; public and private school teachers and staff; Accomack and Northampton Department of Social Services; and National Park Service employees.
Phase 1a included healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.
Phase 1b, in addition to people age 65 and over, and younger people with certain medical conditions, includes people in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, or migrant labor camps.
Frontline essential workers in Phase 1b, to be vaccinated in this order, are: police, fire and hazmat; corrections and homeless shelter workers; childcare and preschool staff and teachers; food and agricultural workers; manufacturing; grocery store workers; public transit workers; mail carriers; officials needed to maintain continuity of government; clergy; and janitorial workers.
Half of doses received will go to people age 65 and over and half to people in the other Phase 1b categories, according to the VDH.
The timeline for vaccinating people in Phase 1c, including younger adults and other essential workers, is not known. Those people can preregister now.
They include workers in:
Energy
Water, wastewater, and waste removal workers (includes recycling removal workers)
Housing and Construction
Food Service
Transportation and Logistics
Institutions of Higher Education Faculty/Staff
Finance
Information Technology & Communication
Media
Legal Services
Public Safety (engineers)
Other Public Health Workers
How Do I Get in Line for Vaccination?
Virginians should preregister at vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA, or 877-829-4682 from from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, available in English and Spanish, with call-back service in more than 100 other languages.
Individuals who preregistered will be called or emailed when it is their turn to receive vaccine.
People who previously preregistered with their health district do not need to register again but can check their status on the website.
You will not be asked for a social security number or immigration status and there is no cost for the vaccine.
Employees also should preregister in the statewide system, which allows them to identify themselves as frontline essential workers so they can be contacted for vaccination.
Employers can continue to work with the health department to coordinate employee clinics. Phase 1b employers who do not have a plan in place who have not heard from the health department should call 757-787-5880.
Riverside Health System and Eastern Shore Rural Health schedule appointments for eligible people, although vaccine supply does not yet meet demand.
Riverside will vaccinate its patients, either primary care or patients in active treatment with a Riverside specialty care provider on or after Jan. 1, 2020.
Riverside notifies patients by MyChart, email, or phone when the opportunity to schedule an appointment becomes available.
Information is at https://www.riversideonline.com/covid_19/COVID-19-Vaccine.cfm
Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital has conducted several “closed pod” clinics for groups, according to John Peterman, RSMH president, speaking to the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce Feb. 25.
Nick Chuquin of Riverside said an analysis indicated there are around 24,000 adults on the Shore who will want to be vaccinated.
“We have been able to provide 6,656 vaccines; almost 4,000 of those are first doses,” he said, adding, “That means we have already vaccinated about 16.5% percent of the population (for the first dose),” Chuquin said. Additionally, 11.7% has received the second dose.
The Shore as a whole has received more than 12,000 doses, he said.
Adding Riverside’s statistics to those of other providers, “We’re already at almost 40%” of the Shore’s willing population having received one dose, he said.
“If you compare this to national numbers, the U. S. as a whole is slightly above 13% of the population receiving the vaccine. … When you look at…total population of the Shore, which is what the news is reporting, the Eastern Shore is already at 20.9% of residents that have received the first dose,” Chuquin said.
In comparison, 15.5% of Virginians have been vaccinated with at least one dose.
“We’re only receiving 500 doses of vaccine a week on the Shore, and we’re hoping that those numbers increase; (but) when you take it all in and look at the bigger picture, we have been able to vaccinate a higher percent on the Shore than the rest of the state has,” he said, attributing that in part to the ability to accept the Pfizer vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage. RSMH has that capability.
ESRH does not require a person to be a primary care patient to be vaccinated at its centers. Shore residents in Phase 1a or 1b should call a center. Information is at https://www.esrh.org/covid-19/
ESRH has been giving around 400 first doses per week, but is capable of giving 1,750 vaccines per week if supply increases, CEO Matthew Clay told Chincoteague chamber members.
ESRH has been using the Moderna vaccine.
ESRH centers, as federally qualified health centers, could receive additional doses under a separate federal program, but have not yet been included in the program, which started with 25 centers across the nation and recently expanded to 250.
“We have plans in place if the doses come,” Clay said.
ESRH as of Feb. 25 had administered more than 4,500 doses, including 3,200 first doses, with zero wasted doses and call lists at each center.
“We’ve given everything out that we’ve gotten; we’ve done that every week,” Clay said.
ESRH created three videos to reach out to minorities and speakers of other languages about vaccination.
“We want all citizens on the Shore to know we are here to serve each and every one of you in a caring and compassionate manner,” Clay said in the videos, which also feature Dr. Betty Bibbins, Marissa Sanchez, and Tobbee Gregoire. Information is given in English, Spanish, and Creole.
All three videos can be viewed on the ESRH Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/esrhs
Another place Virginians can get vaccinated is certain pharmacies, which receive vaccines under a separate, federal program.
Richardson said Wednesday Shore Pharmacy in Exmore (the former Lloyd’s) is participating in the federal pharmacy vaccine partnership. The pharmacy is working from health department preregistration lists to schedule vaccination appointments. Appointments can not be scheduled by individuals directly.
Third Vaccine Authorized
The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency use authorization Saturday for a third vaccine, made by Johnson & Johnson.
Virginia was expected to receive 69,000 doses this week, which were prioritized for mass vaccination clinics, according to a press release from the Virginia Department of Health.
The Eastern Shore Health District requested 1,000 doses, Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia vaccine coordinator, said in a briefing Wednesday.
Additional doses are being sent to pharmacies in the federal program.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is easier to store and requires just one dose. Its efficacy, although lower in clinical trials than the others, is still well above the flu vaccine’s, Peterman said.
Two previously authorized vaccines, from Pfizer and Moderna, require two doses.
It is unlikely a person will be able to choose which vaccine they receive, although Avula said people contacted about vaccination events are told which vaccine is being used.
While the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in clinical trials had a somewhat lower efficacy in preventing mild to moderate COVID-19 — 72% in the United States, compared to 95% for Pfizer and 94.1% for Moderna — Peterman noted all have a significantly higher efficacy rate than the 50% considered acceptable for influenza vaccines.
All three vaccines are proven extremely effective at preventing COVID-19-related hospitalization and death, Avula said.
More than 70% of Virginians now say they will take a vaccine when offered one, up from around 50% earlier, according to Peterman.

Eastern Shore Rural Health/Eastern Shore Health District COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Saturday, March 6

Eastern Shore Rural Health System Inc. and the Eastern Shore Health District will be offering the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at Nandua High School – by appointment only – all day Saturday, March 6. Eastern Shore of Virginia residents in phase 1a and 1b who have scheduled vaccination appointments with Rural Health now have the chance to be vaccinated March 6 instead. If you have a vaccination appointment with Rural Health, but would like to receive the J&J vaccine this Saturday, March 6, call 787-7374 and we will reschedule you. If you are in the phase 1a or 1b group and you do not have a vaccination appointment with Rural Health yet, call and we will schedule you an appointment for March 6 while supplies last. (See the COVID-19 tab at www.esrh.org to see who is in phase 1a and 1b.) Once the March 6 schedule is full Rural Health can schedule you for COVID vaccination at a later date. Due to successful efforts to vaccinate the community, Rural Health and the Eastern Shore Health District were given additional doses that will be given this Saturday.

Shore Vaccination Statistics
As of Wednesday, Accomack County had 9,757 vaccines administered, including 6,441 first doses and 3,316 people fully vaccinated, according to the VDH.
Northampton County had 4,976 vaccines administered, including 3,216 first doses and 1,760 people fully vaccinated.

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