Blue Ridge Health District brings forward important vaccination updates

Blue Ridge Health District brings forward important vaccination updates

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Blue Ridge Health District is clearing up some crucial vaccine confusion tonight. With a new vaccine registration system in place and winter weather on the way, BRHD officials want to get updated information out about the vaccination process.

BRHD Officials say limited supply continues to be an overwhelming issue.

“As Governor Northam has reported, it will be March or April before we see significant increases in vaccine to meet the demand. So we are currently receiving 2,850 doses per week,” BRHD Incident Commander Ryan McKay said. “So we are working with a very small number to try to distribute and dispense to a large population across our health district.”

To complicate things further, inclement weather is headed towards central Virginia. Now, the Blue Ridge Health District is moving all Thursday and Friday vaccination appointments scheduled at the Kmart site.

Appointments set for Thursday, February 18 will be rescheduled for Saturday, February 20. Appointments set for Friday, February 19 are being moved to Monday, February 22. This does not apply to CVS vaccinations or UVA vaccination clinics.

“We’re making this decision now so that we can provide ample opportunity for individuals to receive information to email and contact us if they don’t hear from us so that we can follow up with them with a significant amount of time for individuals to plan,” McKay said.

McKay says the health district ran into significant scheduling issues with the last winter storm, so they are deciding to play it safe. All people with appointment slots booked for these days should expect to hear from BRHD shortly to reschedule their slots.

McKay also says they are not wasting leftover doses. At the end of each day, BRHD will give any leftovers to Phase 1a providers who work with BRHD partners.

“As we’re nearing the end of our day so somewhere around 2 o’clock. if we’re finding that either people did not show up for an appointment or maybe we got an extra dose or two out of a vial, we will communicate with our point of contact, who can then contact someone from their list to get them to come and get vaccinated.”

The brand new Virginia Department of Health online pre-registration system also stirred up much confusion.

“I’m sure there are many people across the state who have tried to get to this website at the same exact moment today,” BRHD Spokesperson Kathryn Goodman said. “It certainly has led to a slow, a slow rollout.”

Goodman says all of the kinks will be worked out in the coming days. After IT issues are resolved, it should streamline the process for signing up in a simpler way.

“When people register through the system, they should get an email with a confirmation code,” Goodman said. “They can use that to track themselves as well so that they don’t have to look up using email or phone number.”

Looking ahead, the entire health district’s phone system will be changing at 8 a.m. on Wednesday February 17. All calls about pre-registering online will be directed to a state hotline with 750 people answering phones.

BRHD’s hotline will not handle those issues and will only deal with local resources.

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