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Vaccine arrives for health care workers

The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Piedmont Health District announced the start of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign Wednesday, Jan. 6, making way for what some health officials say could be a break in the virus we are all waiting for.

Currently, health care personnel in Lunenburg County are eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1a, and according to the VDH, it can be received at the Lunenburg County Health Department.

Public Information Officer Brookie Crawford with VDH said Virginia expects to receive approximately 100,000 doses per week, comprised of 50,000 Moderna doses and 50,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses.

Crawford was unable to confirm how many vaccines would be allocated for Lunenburg County, but according to VDH’s dashboard, as of Tuesday, Jan. 12, 100 people in the county have received the vaccine.

Some examples of health care personnel eligible under Phase 1a for the vaccine are emergency medical service staff, physicians, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists.

Phase 1a also includes long-term care residents and staff that are being vaccinated through a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens.

According to Crawford, all of the Central Region is under Phase 1a.

“We do not have an exact timeline yet of when Virginia will move to the next phase,” Crawford said. “However, all areas of the commonwealth are expected to move to Phase 1b before the end of January.”

VDH estimates it will take several weeks to months to vaccinate Virginians who fall into Phase 1b.

Crawford said as the availability of the vaccine increases, Virginia will move to the other phases.

Virginia’s Phase 1b includes persons ages 75 years and older, inmates, residents of homeless shelters, migrant labor camps workers and front-line essential workers including:

police, fire, hazmat, corrections and homeless shelter workers, childcare/PreK-12 teachers and staff; food and agriculture (including veterinarians, manufacturing, grocery store workers, public transit workers, mail carriers (USPS and private)

Officials needed to maintain continuity of government (includes judges and public-facing judicial workers)

Virginia’s Phase 1c includes: Residents ages 65 through 74 years and residents ages 16 through 64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe Illness from COVID-19.

It also includes other essential workers such as those who work in: energy; waste; wastewater, and waste removal workers; housing construction; food service; transportation and logistics; institutions of higher education faculty and staff; finance; information technology and communication; media; legal services; public safety (engineers) and

other public health workers.

Crawford said Virginians who do not fall into priority phases would be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available.

“Once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine,” she said. “People will be able to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy and their primary care physician.”

Those who fall under Phase 1a who live in Lunenburg County are urged to contact the Lunenburg County Health Department at (434) 696-2346 to schedule a vaccine appointment.