By Stefanie Jackson – All Virginia adults who want the COVID-19 vaccine are now eligible to get it, Gov. Ralph Northam announced during a press briefing today at the Tysons Community Vaccination Center, in Fairfax County.
“Please get vaccinated,” Northam implored. “It will keep you safer, it will keep your family safer, and it will keep your community safer.”
Virginians eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine include everyone age 16 and older, he clarified.
About 50% of all adults in Virginia – around 39% of the state’s population – have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 25% of Virginia adults are fully vaccinated.
Northam predicted every adult who wants the vaccine should be able to receive at least the first dose by the end of May.
When 70% to 75% of Virginians have been vaccinated for COVID-19, herd immunity will be achieved.
Virginia’s population is approximately 8.5 million, and about 2 million to 2.5 million are children.
Clinical trials are ongoing on using the COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 12 and up, and Northam expects to hear the results this summer.
If children can start getting vaccinated this fall and winter, by early 2022 “we’ll be much closer to herd immunity,” Northam said.
“Vaccinations are the only way we end this pandemic and get back to normal,” the governor said. “The risks of getting seriously ill … are just too high.”
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 also stops the chance of the coronavirus to mutate, he said.
The new mass vaccination clinic in Fairfax County will be able to administer 3,000 vaccines per day.
Virginia had 978 new cases of COVID-19 as of April 18, and the COVID-19 test positivity rate was 6.1%.
Virginia’s COVID-19 metrics have reached a plateau, and some restrictions will be eased in the coming weeks, Northam said.
He agreed with feedback from Virginia students and parents who stated public performances of music or drama should be treated the same as athletic programs.
Northam said the number of people allowed at public gatherings will be increased to 100 indoors and 500 outdoors, or 30% of a venue’s capacity.
Sen. Mark Warner also encouraged all eligible persons to get the COVID-19 vaccine and said, “This is not a question of politics. … It’s about whether you care about yourself, your family, your neighbors, your community.”
He noted that 57 weeks have passed since the first COVID-19-related shutdown, and the federal government has invested $5 trillion in COVID-19 relief to date.
Virginia received $4 billion from the most recent COVID-19 relief bill, plus $3 billion for local governments across the commonwealth, Warner said.
Chairman Jeff McKay, of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, encouraged everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine as an “act of charity … protecting everyone around us.”
Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s state vaccination coordinator, said the Virginia Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Friday, April 23, to decide whether or not the state will resume use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Virginia has received an additional 15,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in lieu of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week, for a total of 220,000 first doses received, he said.
The state will continue to receive 450,000 to 500,000 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine weekly, Avula said.
His team will work to promote the vaccine in parts of the state where demand has dropped, and “to increase access and to help people understand why they should still be vaccinated … and help us progress economically and socially moving forward.”
To schedule an appointment to receive the free COVID-19 vaccine, visit vaccine.va.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA or 877-829-4682.