RICHMOND – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said in a press conference Monday that he’s aiming to have all adults in Virginia receive a vaccine shot by May 31.
“I’m confident that every adult in Virginia who wants the vaccine can get their first shot by the end of May,” Northam said.
Getting A Vaccine Appointment
To achieve this goal, the governor said Virginians can now schedule their own vaccine appointments. They no longer have to wait on health districts to call them.
Instead, everyone in Virginia 16 years old or older can now make an appointment to get vaccinated by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov. That’s the same website that Virginians used to pre-register for the vaccine. Now, when you visit the site, you can make an appointment online by clicking on the box with the label ‘Vaccine Finder.’ Then, the website will redirect you to vaccinefinder.org, where you can find vaccine appointments by filtering for the type of vaccine you want and your location.
To make an appointment by phone, call 877-829-4682.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, 5,345,314 Virginians have already received at least one dose of the vaccine. Now, according to Northam, another three million Virginians are eligible.
“It may take a few weeks to get appointments for everyone. We estimate at least three million more Virginians are now eligible. Not everyone can get a shot today or even this week,” Northam said. “We’re on the right track. We just need to continue to be careful and vigilant.”
Easing Some Restrictions
Northam also said he’s planning on easing some restrictions on sporting events and entertainment venues in the coming weeks. However, he didn’t indicate exactly when those changes will go into effect.
“We’re making a few small tweaks to guidelines and we’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks,” Northam said. “Cross country will be allowed to have sixty eight runners at the starting line, which is up from fifty. I’ve heard a lot of discussion about that… Currently performance events like drama and musicals are considered social gatherings. I’ve heard a lot of feedback from parents and students that these events should be treated like athletic events. And I agree. So we’ll increase the number of people to a hundred indoors or thirty percent of that venue’s capacity. If it’s outdoors, it will be increased to five hundred or thirty percent of capacity.”
Vaccine Doses To Continue At The Same Rate
On how much of the vaccine the Commonwealth should expect moving forward, Virginia’s Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said they don’t expect an increase in doses over the coming weeks. At the same time, they also don’t expect a decrease in the number of doses Virginia receives from Moderna and Pfizer.
“It sounds like our Moderna and Pfizer, the production capability is kind of maxed out. So we don’t expect a significant increase in Moderna and Pfizer moving forward. We’ll continue to get the total allotment we’ve been receiving, which is about four hundred and fifty to five hundred thousand total doses of Moderna and Pfizer. And hopefully we’ll have good news from Johnson & Johnson, which would increase that by probably another hundred thousand doses next week.”
Doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson are currently on hold until the CDC and FDA make a determination about its safety.
In general, the governor and other local politicians who spoke during the event Monday were encouraging Virginians to get the vaccine as soon as they can. Northam also said people in the Commonwealth need to respect social distancing guidelines even after they receive a shot
“Please, this is no time for Virginia to let down our guard. We all need to keep wearing a mask in public, we need to keep our distance, we need to keep washing our hands, and if we feel sick, we need to stay at home. We need to do that to give more time for people to get vaccinated,” said Northam.