UVA Health looking to ramp up vaccinations while staying wary of new COVID-19 variants

UVA Health looking to ramp up vaccinations while staying wary of new COVID-19 variants

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The University of Virginia Health System is sharing the latest updates on vaccination efforts and new concerns about COVID-19 variants in Virginia.

Dr. Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiology, says when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, the issue continues to be limited supply. As for the virus itself, the possibility of variants is also troubling many medical experts.

“We’ve given, to date, 38,896, doses of vaccine,” Sifri said. “That includes 25,213 first doses of vaccine. We’ve completed vaccination for 13,683 individuals in the health district.”

UVA Health is making headway on vaccinations under the direction of the Blue Ridge Health District.

“We’re starting to see the consequences and are hearing more about that there’s more vaccines in the pipeline,” Sifri said. “We now have commitments to suggest that maybe everybody in the United States who wants a vaccine could have a vaccine by the middle of the summer, the end of July, so we have a lot of hope.”

For Sifri and other medical experts, there is some unease about variants and other strains of COVID-19.

“The thing that is on the horizon, that is of concern, is the emergence of variants,” he said. “They’re in Virginia and we don’t know exactly how many because we have not done a lot of genomic sequencing to understand how many there are and where they’re located.”

Sifri says we should all play it safe until further research is done on these variants.

“If the variants are more transmissible, we would anticipate that we’ll see them in increasing bounds and as we know the CDC has predicted that is what we can anticipate seeing in the upcoming months,” he said.

Sifri also says UVA will work with the Blue Ridge Health District to ramp up vaccination efforts for people ages 75 and up over the weekend and into next week.

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