The COVID Vaccine Distribution Plan in Virginia

Posted on 04/15/21 by Catherine Maddux

En español | Who can get vaccinated now?

  • Virginians 65 and older, frontline essential workers, including police, firefighters, PreK-12 educational staff, mail carriers and grocery store workers, residents aged 16 to 64 with an underlying medical condition (Phase 1b). Some counties are vaccinating another group of essential workers, including employees in the energy, housing, construction, finance, higher education, and media sectors (Phase 1c). Check here to see which phase your county is in.
  • Virginia has paused distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine because of a type of blood clot that has developed in some women after vaccination. The federal government has called the reaction “extremely rare” but “serious.” If you have an appointment for the J&J vaccine, your provider or state or local health department may honor it with a different vaccine or may reach out to reschedule for a different vaccine. You can also contact your provider or health department for more information. The Fairfax County health department says all appointments for Johnson & Johnson will be substituted with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Where can I get vaccinated? 

  • State vaccine registration: Residents, excluding Fairfax County, can now pre-register online for a COVID-19 vaccination on the Virginia state health department website or call the COVID-19 hotline at 877-829-4682 (8 am to 8 pm daily) for help signing up. Language translation services are available. If you've already registered for a vaccine on a local county health department, you won't need to register again on the statewide system. Fairfax County is not participating in the new statewide registry. Residents there can register on the county website.
  • Local health departments and clinics: If you are eligible but have not been notified by your employer or health care provider, use this online locator to find a health department near you. Check Virginia's COVID webpage for regular updates.
  • Retail pharmacies: CVS (including those located within some Target stores), Safeway, Kroger, Walgreens and Walmart have begun administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible populations at locations throughout the state. Follow the links to register and schedule appointments. You must register separately at each pharmacy website. You’ll need to create an account with your name and email to get a vaccine through Walmart.
  • Mass vaccination sites: Richmond, Suffolk, Norfolk, Danville, Portsmouth, Petersburg, and Prince William County have opened mass vaccination sites. Vaccinations are by appointment only. You can make an appointment on the state health department's COVID-19 website or call the COVID-19 hotline at 877-829-4682. You can also find information about mass sites by using the state's online locator, which will direct you to county health departments.
  • Veterans Affairs facilities are vaccinating veterans, spouses and veteran caregivers. Those enrolled in the VA health care system get priority; additional appointments will go to others who are eligible based on their age, health problems and other factors that increase their COVID-19 risk. Sign up with VA to get updates on vaccine availability and to be notified when you can make an appointment.
  • Vaccine supplies remain limited in many areas. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be hard to get, as available time slots may be booked quickly, and you might be put on a waiting list. You can sign up at multiple sites to increase your chances of getting an appointment, but once you have confirmed a slot at one site, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule with any other provider so that those slots stay open for others.
  • AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19. 

    What should I bring to my vaccination appointment? 

    Fairfax, Virginia Health Care Workers Get Covid 19 Vaccine Shots

    Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. 

    If you are prioritized because of an underlying medical condition or based on your work, you may need a note from your doctor, a pay stub or badge, or some other form of proof. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

    Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next?  

    All Virginians age 16 and older will be eligible for a vaccine by April 18 (Phase 2). Anyone in groups 1a, 1b or 1c who are currently registered will be scheduled for a shot by April 17.

    How are residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities get vaccinated? 

    Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities in Virginia are being vaccinated through a federal program that contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer COVID-19 vaccines via free on-site clinics. Apart from a very small number of outstanding clinics, the program is complete. 

    To ensure long-term care facilities still have access to COVID-19 vaccines — for new residents or staff, or for residents and staff who were initially hesitant to receive the shots — the federal government is continuing to allocate vaccines to pharmacies partnered with long-term care facilities. 

    Which vaccines require a second shot?
    The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.  

    Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot, though distribution of that vaccine has been paused. Pfizer’s vaccine is authorized for people 16 and older, while the Moderna vaccine is authorized for those 18 and older.

    It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. 

    Do I have to pay for the vaccination?  

    You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).  

    According to the Virginia Department of Health, any COVID-19 vaccination fees will be covered by insurance companies or by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Provider Relief Fund. There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them.  AARP’s Fraud Watch Network  is tracking the latest scams.

    What should I do with my vaccine card? 

    You should get a small white card at your vaccination appointment with your name, birth date, name of the vaccine you received and the date it was administered. If you receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, bring your card when you get your second shot.  

    You may need your vaccine card for certain kinds of travel or other activities, so keep it in a safe place. You can take a photo of it with your smartphone for your own records. Experts say that posting a photo of your card to social media could make you vulnerable to identity theft. If you lose your card or did not receive one, contact your vaccine provider or your local health department to get a copy.

    Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

    Yes. Experts are still learning about how vaccines affect the spread of COVID-19, so the CDC still recommends taking precautions while in public — including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces. Scientists are also studying the effectiveness of the vaccines against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus. 

    It takes two weeks to build immunity after the single-dose shot and the second dose of the two-dose shots. After that, fully vaccinated individuals can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, the CDC says. They can also gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household without masks, unless any of them are at a high risk for severe COVID-19.

    This guide was updated on April 15 with information about mass vaccination sites across the state.

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    Also of Interest: 

    This story is provided by AARP Virginia. Visit the AARP Virginia page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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