By Carol Vaughn —
As of Friday, May 21, 41% of Virginians were fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Virginia vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said during a press briefing.
Citing President Joe Biden’s goal to have 70% of adult Americans vaccinated with at least one dose by July 4, Avula said, “We’re actually doing great in those regards; we are at 65% today.”
There are around 343,000 adult Virginians left to be vaccinated to reach the 70% goal, which translates to around 8,000 shots per day.
“We have been tracking a good bit better than that — over the last week, around 20,000, a little over that a day, for first doses,” Avula said.
The numbers of vaccinated Virginians have been bolstered by the expansion of vaccine eligibility to people ages 12 and over.
After the Federal Drug Administration authorized the Pfizer vaccine to be given to people ages 12-15, in just over a week 52,649 Virginians in that age group were vaccinated with a first dose. The number equates to around 12.5% of Virginia’s population in that age group, according to Avula.
“That’s a really big step,” he said.
Avula also noted recent changes to the Virginia Department of Health coronavirus dashboard, including the addition of federally administered vaccine doses to the total numbers.
Other recent developments include a continuing shift away from large-scale, mass vaccination events to mobile units, pop-up clinics, and other more targeted efforts.
Additionally, the state and federal governments are making efforts to get more vaccines to primary care providers to give to their patients, according to Avula.
“Local health departments and health systems have been playing this role to some degree over the last few months, where they will receive the large shipments of Pfizer, break them down, and redistribute them into more manageable shipments, because the Pfizer has been delivered up until this point in trays of 1,170 doses,” Avula said.
The federal government announced starting this week there would be some smaller Pfizer vaccine shipments of only 450 doses.
Still, some providers only can use much smaller amounts, say 30 or 50 or 100 doses at a time.
“So we’re going to continue to build out our network of independent pharmacies and hubs that can receive those shipments, break them down, and redistribute them to providers so that they can have manageable amounts,” Avula said.
“We will continue to lean a lot on our primary care providers and increasingly our pediatricians” to administer vaccines, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control issued guidance saying people who are fully vaccinated, after two weeks after their second vaccination, no longer need to wear masks in most settings, Avula said.
“That is really about the science,” Avula said, adding, “…What we’ve done here in Virginia, is we’ve come into alignment with the CDC guidelines and that should be really encouraging for people. …The data is really good, that you are safe if you are fully vaccinated,” he said.