Pandemic status: New case numbers continue to drop

1. Case numbers across the states continue to drop, the new case count in the U.S. is about 120,000 per day. 46/50 states report improving trends.

2. Virginia has improved, new case rate at to 3478/day 7 day average.

3. Three Rivers is around 70 new cases/day.

a. The hospital systems remain fully capable and are not in danger of being overwhelmed.

Vaccination Program Update: Expect major delays

1. This vaccination program will take many months, they expect it may be many weeks before everyone currently eligible and signed up can get an appointment

a. Three Rivers Health District is in phase 1b. For details of vaccination phases, please visit this website: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/#phase1b

b. This vaccine is much more complex than any vaccine they have ever administered.  It is fragile, there are CDC requirements that must be met, and there is a mandatory observation period after administration of at least 15 minutes to watch for severe allergic reactions. Current vaccines require 2 doses several weeks apart. This slows everything down.

c. There is a severe national vaccine shortage; they are getting less than 25% of the vaccine they are capable of administering every week. This is the current major limiting factor.  They have been told to expect this to continue to last at least several weeks.

d. The Three Rivers Health District, the hospital systems, physician practices, pharmacies, and free clinics are engaged in the vaccination effort. Local EMS personnel are also engaged. When they get more vaccine, they can move faster.

e. Large vaccination events are planned at the state level when more vaccine becomes available.

f. It may be weeks or longer before vaccination appointments become available for those who have registered for a vaccination.  

g. They constantly look for opportunities with Three Rivers vaccination partners to accept patients from this list, but progress is very slow due to the shortage of vaccine.

h. Available vaccine dosages will be allocated approximately equally between critical infrastructure workers (and people aged 16-64 with underlying medical conditions), and individuals who qualify on the basis of age.

i. Second doses are allocated based on the first dose; if you get your first dose of vaccine, they will call you when it is time for your second dose.

j. Despite these limitations, Three Rivers Health District jurisdictions compare very favorably with surrounding counties in vaccine doses delivered per 100,000 population. This data can be reviewed at this website:  https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-summary/   

k. The Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership phase 2 will begin very soon in Virginia.  CVS is the retail pharmacy that will begin offering vaccinations in Virginia.  CVS has told Virginia that they plan to start with vaccine going to 36 locations  in the following localities:  Abingdon, Alexandria, Arlington, Bedford, Blacksburg, Charlottesville, Chatham, Chesapeake, Danville, Dublin, Fairfax, Fredericksburg, Gainesville, Hampton, Harrisonburg, Leesburg, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Mechanicsville, Midlothian, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Richmond, Roanoke, Rocky Mount, Stafford, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, Warrenton, Williamsburg, Winchester, Woodstock. VDH has provided the following language to local health districts:

• CVS will be making the final decision on the locations and have used a model based on vulnerability, capacity and vaccine supply.

• As more information is available, CVS will provide details for vaccination sites at www.cvshealth.com.    

• As more supply becomes available the company will expand to more locations and offer additional appointments.  

• Virginia Department of Health will provide input and recommendations to CVS for future locations as they continue to expand beyond the initial 36 locations that will go live at the start.

They will follow this closely, and hope to obtain retail pharmacy vaccination support in Three Rivers as more vaccine becomes available.

2. How to sign up for a vaccination appointment

a. People eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in phase 1b seeking a vaccination appointment can contact their health care providers for initial consultation.  

b. Any eligible people who cannot receive vaccination through their health care system, or anyone with a COVID-19 related question, should call the Middle Peninsula COVID-19 resource center at 804-824-2733, or toll free at 888-202-5208, Monday through Friday 8:30 – 4:30. Northern Neck residents should call the Northern Neck Resource Center at 888-1204-5357, Monday through Friday 8:30 – 4:30.

c. Eligible individuals can also visit the Three Rivers Health District website to access an online survey to give them contact information and request an appointment at: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/three-rivers/

d. Your name will be added to their lists and they will call you as soon as vaccine appointments become available.  

e. They are sharing names on their waiting list with the community vaccination partners as they have availability in their systems to offer appointments.

f. There are many thousands who have registered with Three Rivers Health District for a COVID-19 vaccine; they will work through the list as fast as they can.

g. The Virginia Department of Health is creating a very large central call center for COVID-19 related questions, and for vaccination pre-registration. This call center is expected to come online this week.

3. Vaccine development and virus update

a. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a single dose product, is expected to be ready for FDA review and authorization within several weeks.

b. The COVID-19 virus continues to genetically drift.

i. The United Kingdom, South African, and Brazilian variants are all in the United States now

ii. They are more contagious and are expected to become the predominant strains in the future

iii. Vaccine effectiveness against these new strains is being evaluated. Proceeding with vaccination is recommended for everyone.

iv. Persons who have had COVID-19 disease can seek vaccination after their isolation period ends, and after their symptoms including fever, have resolved.

c. After receiving COVID-19 vaccination, public health authorities are recommending everyone continue masking, maintaining social distancing and avoiding crowded areas after being vaccinated.   

i. The vaccine may not prevent all COVID-19 infections

ii. Public health authorities will let everyone know when it is safe to relax protective measures.