CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - It’s the big question looming on everyone’s mind: “When will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?”
The Blue Ridge Health District (BRHD) is releasing new information on the next phase of the vaccine roll-out, including who will get the vaccine, and when. The district is encouraging people to be patient as things continue to change and a plethora of uncertainties lie ahead.
“Things are changing hourly. By the time I speak to you and by the time Monday rolls around, things could be different because we’re constantly improving. We’re working around around the clock to constantly improve the process so that we can get the most people vaccinated,” Emergency Manager and Vaccine Coordinator Jessica Coughlin in an interview on Saturday.
The district is still currently in Phase 1A of the vaccine roll-out, focusing on front-line healthcare workers and long-term care residents and staff. By the end of winter, BRHD plans to transition to Phase 1B, which prioritizes front-line workers like teachers, police, and government staff, those age 75 and older, and residents and staff in congregate settings like correctional facilities or homeless shelters.
Coughlin said when that phase will officially start, however, is still unknown, citing large amounts of vaccinations that need to be given to front-line healthcare workers in the district as part of Phase 1A.
“Charlottesville is a huge hub, especially for healthcare. We have UVA, we have Sentara, so there are hundreds of offices,” Coughlin said.
Currently, the district is recommending individuals who fall into the 1B category request the vaccine through a survey on their website. Coughlin said, unfortunately, there is no guarantee on when they’ll get their shot.
“We want to get vaccines in everyone’s arm who wants one. We have a firm commitment to that. We don’t want to promise that you’re going to get it, because what if the vaccine runs out? What if something happens with the emergency use authorization? There’s so many what ifs that we don’t want to promise something and not be able to deliver it due to situations outside of our control.”
Coughlin note the district must comply with state and federal guidance first and foremost, while also managing COVID-19 testing and tracing efforts. Hundreds of requests have been made for Phase 1A and 1B so far. Bringing on more staff to distribute the vaccine also requires additional planning, paperwork and background checks.
“We are full speed ahead and everyone who wants a vaccine will get one. We can promise that,” Coughlin said.
In some places in the commonwealth, Phase 1B is starting as early as Monday, January 11. The Blue Ridge Health District said it will be releasing more information regarding when it will start in Charlottesville and the surrounding counties in the coming week.