State officials say long-term care residents and staff should be fully vaccinated by the end of January.

RICHMOND-It’ll take another month to fully vaccinate all residents and staff at Virginia’s long-term care facilities. Virginia’s Secretary of Health Dan Carey made that announcement Wednesday, speaking at a press conference. Carey and other Health Department officials explained vaccinations started at the facilities this past Monday. 

“Our long-term care facilities, residents, and staff are starting to receive the vaccine this week,” said Christy Gray, director of the Virginia Health Department’s Immunization Division . “Most have signed up for the federal Long-term Care Facility Pharmacy Partnership Program, which are receiving vaccinations on-site at the facility locations through a partnership with CVS and Walgreens vaccination teams.”

So far, vaccination teams have been to 61 facilities across the state, Carey and Gray said. 

CVS teams will make three visits to each long-term care facility to ensure residents and staff receive their initial shot and critical booster. The plan is to have a majority of residents and staff fully vaccinated three to four weeks after the first visit. That means long-term care residents and staff won’t be fully vaccinated until January 18. CVS expects to complete its long-term care facility vaccination effort in approximately 12 weeks.

“We plan to administer the vaccine in close to 880 long-term care facilities, which is about 110K patients,” responded CVS Media Relations Specialist Tara Burke. “The state determines when the vaccine is available for administering.”

RELATED: When and How Will Virginia See Vaccine Distributed?

Who is in Phase 1A?

The biggest question for most people is when will they be eligible to get the vaccine. Right now, Virginia is working through the first half of Phase 1, what’s referred to as Phase 1A. Health care workers, long-term care facility residents, and emergency medical service workers all fall under the Phase 1A umbrella.

Once we clear Phase 1, other groups will be in line. Phase 2 includes all other “frontline” or “essential” workers. That means everyone from teachers to grocery store employees. In addition, medically vulnerable residents would also be in Phase 2. That’s people with pre-existing conditions, with any type of medical problem that put them at higher risk of catching the virus. 

“[The] vaccine will be provided to Virginians in a way that is fair, ethical, and transparent,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver in a statement. “We will focus initially on the groups that have been most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 infections and those whose work puts them at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 infections. Over time, as more vaccine supply becomes available, more Virginians will be able to get vaccinated, and we can look forward to a time when this pandemic will end.”

It’ll take into February to fully distribute the vaccine to everyone in Phase 1. In Phase 2, think double or triple that. Just over 3 million people fall under the Phase 2 guidelines. Phase 3 includes the remaining 4.88 million adults. Be prepared to wait if you’re in that group. A best case scenario puts Phase Three receiving shots by April or May, 2021. 

Where Virginia Stands with Vaccine

As of December 30, 54,295 vaccines have been administered across Virginia. This information can be found on the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“We are pleased with our progress, but we have a long way to go,” said Gray. “47,000 doses in two weeks is a not small number. We are proud of our Virginia providers for accomplishing that.”

Brandon Carwile is a freelance reporter for Dogwood. You can reach him at info@vadogwood.com.