More essential workers will soon qualify for the vaccine.

RICHMOND-By mid-April, all of Virginia’s health districts will be vaccinating people in Group 1C. The state health department made that announcement Tuesday, adding that some districts are already starting that process. But what does that mean? And who gets the vaccine once we make the change? 

First, just a reminder about where we’re currently at. Phase 1B includes anyone 65 and older, some essential workers, and anyone from ages 16-64 with underlying medical conditions. That’s who’s eligible for the vaccine as we speak. Once we jump to Phase 1C, 12 other categories of essential workers become eligible. That includes: 

  • People in the energy industry 
  • Water, wastewater, and waste removal workers 
  • Housing and construction workers
  • Anyone working in food service
  • Transportation and logistics employees
  • Staff at colleges and universities
  • People in the finance industry 
  • The news media 
  • Other communications workers 
  • Those in legal services
  • Engineers 
  • Other public health workers

When Do You Move On? 

Now, the move to 1C doesn’t automatically happen. State officials said each district will make that decision, with final approval coming from Richmond. They have a checklist to go through, before being able to make that switch. First, all health departments in the district must show that they’ve made a strong effort to reach everyone eligible in Groups 1A and 1B. 

Second, the district must look at demand. Take Danville, for example. On Monday, crowds lined up to get their first shot when the community vaccination center opened in the city. Have those crowds started shrinking? Are there fewer people coming in this week to get a vaccine shot? If so, that’s an indicator it’s time to move to Group 1C. 

“Finally, the light at the end of this long journey seems to be coming into view,” said State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver. “Vaccine is our best hope of ending the pandemic. My heartfelt thanks to the many Virginians who are signing up and getting vaccinated and for the health care workers and volunteers who are administering vaccines.”

It’s Time to Sign Up for the Vaccine

On Tuesday, health officials again emphasized the importance of pre-registering. Walk-ins aren’t accepted at any location. That means the only way to get on the list is by pre-registering on the state’s website or by calling. 

“It is important that everyone who falls in one of the priority groups outlined in Phases 1A-1C, including Virginians who are 65 and older, essential workers, and those 16-64 with underlying health conditions, get signed up on the state’s pre-registration list as soon as possible,” said state vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula. “In some communities, those on that pre-registration list will be contacted in days, not weeks, to schedule an appointment for your vaccine.”

Avula said all districts should be vaccinating people in Phase 1C by mid-April. Anyone over 16 who doesn’t meet the other requirements will be vaccinated in Phase 2, which should start by May 1. 

How Do I Sign Up? 

You can sign up by going to vaccinate.virginia.gov or by calling 1-877-829-4682. Someone is available to answer the phone from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. throughout the week. Also, translators are available in more than 100 languages.

Now if you’ve already signed up, check the list at the website to make sure the information listed is accurate. If you have the wrong number listed or were one digit off on your email, it’s the difference between getting vaccinated now and waiting until May.

Be sure to check your email regularly and answer your phone. The caller could be inviting you to schedule your appointment.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at brian@vadogwood.com.

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