VDH: Retirement home visitation guidance unlikely to change in early stages of vaccine rollout

Retirement home visitation guidance unlikely to change in early stages of vaccine rollout, VDH says

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The first thing on many minds after the COVID-19 vaccination is seeing loved ones again, perhaps even hugging them. Experts with Virginia’s Department of Health say visitation at retirement homes is unlikely to happen for a while.

Dr. Laurie Forlano serves as VDH’s deputy commissioner for population health. She says COVID-19 guidance such as wearing a mask and limits on gatherings will likely stay the same until experts can learn more about how the vaccine affects transmission of the virus.

“Your vaccine is not your ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass just yet,” Dr. Forlano said.

When it comes to long-term care facilities such as nursing homes, she says recommendations for visitation will not change for some time.

Dr. Forlano also says these suggestions will stick around in Phase 1B when people age 75 and older are eligible to get the vaccine. She says more work needs to be done to ensure vaccination prevents transmission of the virus, in addition to curbing symptoms.

“We do know that it prevents severe illness,” she said. “What we still need is more time to learn about how it impacts the actual transmission of virus from one person to the other.”

The Blue Ridge Health District, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle County, says employees are still busy vaccinating health care workers and others included in Phase 1A. The health district says it will likely move to the next stage towards the end of the winter season.

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