BRHD hosts town hall about COVID-19 testing, vaccinations

BRHD Mobile Health Clinic (FILE)
BRHD Mobile Health Clinic (FILE)(WVIR)
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 4:19 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Blue Ridge Health District is planning ahead with looming changes to who can get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The virtual town hall on Wednesday night came as Pfizer booster shots for people at least 65-and-older are progressing toward approval.

There’s also the review of data that could mean the approval of Pfizer shots for kids ages 5-11. That still has hurdles to clear at the FDA and CDC, but the Blue Ridge Health District is coming up with plans to get that younger group vaccinated.

“We’ve also spoken to independent schools and public schools in the district and they are very looking forward to partnering with us to provide after school and potentially weekend clinics” said Jen Fleisher, the BRHD’s vaccination project manager. “We also will stand up additional vaccination sites that will include quiet spaces for kids and trained pediatric nurses.”

The approval of those shots will help, especially as area hospitals see more kids admitted with COVID.

“We have had some children hospitalized with COVID” said Dr. Denise Bonds, the BRHD medical director. “It’s not a great number, that’s what I’ve been told by our local hospitals.”

As for boosters, they still need to go through the CDC even after approval by the FDA on Wednesday. BRHD says when those shots are approved, they will be given by appointment only to those who meet the federal guidelines.

But for now, the urgency remains with getting shots one and two into arms.

“Vaccines are highly effective. They’re very safe, and it’s the best way to keep our hospitals open” Bonds said. “So that if you have a different type of emergency and need hospitalization, that is then there for you.”

The town hall was geared, in part, toward parents who may have some COVID-19 questions as their children near the second month of in-person learning.

Some of the topics discussed included quarantine guidance for students and the news that the BRHD will leave contact tracing for students up to each school district.

If you are interested in watching a recording of the hour-long town hall, click here.

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