COVID Vaccine Rates Creep Amid Youngkin’s Continued Anti-Mandate Approach

First lady Jill Biden speaks as she tours a health facility Friday, July 1, 2022, in Richmond, Va. Biden was promoting COVID-19 vaccines for small children (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Amie Knowles

July 13, 2022

Over the past five months, there’s been just barely more than a 2% growth in the fully vaccinated population in Virginia.

Surprise, surprise. While Virginia had a 74.95% COVID-19 vaccination rate for fully vaccinated individuals as of July 6,  the majority of that number is likely not due to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s anti-mandate approach.

In a campaign-style video that aired in February, one of several Youngkin’s appeared in since taking office, the Republican encouraged Virginians to get vaccinated against COVID-19. However, the governor fell short of mandating the vaccine, instead releasing a COVID-19 Action Plan

The plan stated that Youngkin applied “both science and commonsense” to protect both lives and livelihoods. Actions taken included public service announcements, expanding vaccination event efforts, dispersing rapid tests, providing flexibility and support to healthcare facilities while also “empowering individuals to make health care decisions that work for them and their families,” and more.

The rate of fully vaccinated Virginians hasn’t risen by an astronomical amount since Youngkin took office on Jan 15. On that date, the fully vaccinated population was at 69.87%. By the time his public service announcement hit the web on Feb. 14, the percentage had grown to 72.54%. Over the past five months, there’s been just barely more than a 2% growth in the commonwealth’s fully vaccinated population.

However, the vaccine slowdown isn’t just occurring in Virginia. It’s happening across the country. According to US News & Report, out of more than 3,100 counties in the country and the District of Columbia, a total of just 86 had a more than 1% growth in their fully vaccinated population from March 29 to April 28. 

Where We’ve Been, Where We Are

COVID vaccination, which started off almost as a lottery of sorts under the Trump administration, has become a smooth sailing ship under President Joe Biden’s leadership. 

After safe and effective shots were discovered, manufacturers were trying to produce as much product as quickly and safely as they could, and ship it to providers. Only select people in the population could access the vaccine, and even they had specific appointment dates.

As more supply became available and more groups of people became eligible, the question shifted to how to best accommodate the influx of individuals wanting to receive the safety measure. Mass vaccination clinics sprang up across the commonwealth and throughout the country, with some offering thousands of doses per week to community members.

As the supply-demand issue shifted toward more supply than demand in the mid-spring of 2021, the focus shifted to making sure people understood their options. One year later, the pace of vaccinations in the nation has nearly stalled.

Despite the national slowdown of people seeking a COVID-19 vaccination, there are still three vaccine options available to adults: the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines and the one-dose Johnson&Johnson vaccine. Children ages six months and older can receive either a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. 
Appointments are still available for individuals seeking a COVID vaccine or booster. In Virginia, those interested may contact their healthcare provider, retail pharmacies, local health departments, or search for federally qualified health centers at Interested individuals may also call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682).

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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