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Virginia works to administer more COVID vaccine shots

CDC data shows Virginia is administering shots at a rate higher than only 13 other states in the union.

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia is working to get more COVID vaccination shots into the arms of its residents.

According to the CDC, as of January 26, Virginia had administered half of the vaccines distributed to it by the federal government. The Commonwealth is administering shots at a rate just a little lower than the national average of 53 percent.

However, CDC data shows Virginia is administering shots at a rate higher than only 13 other states in the union.

Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said the Commonwealth has experienced data entry issues that have delayed accurate reporting, while some providers have saved some of their shots for future use.

Hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s vaccines have also earmarked for use by CVS and Walgreens in the Commonwealth’s long-term care facilities.

Virginia’s Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said at a press conference Friday that Virginia is working with those companies to get those vaccines distributed quicker.

“We're really trying to figure out what do we need to do to come alongside CVS and Walgreens to get through that population more quickly,” he said.

Virginia recently decided to give cities and counties a weekly allotment of vaccines that would be similar to their share of the state's population.

Officials hope the plan will get more shots in arms while providing local health departments an opportunity to create distribution plans that work best for them.

“[Local health departments] worked with partners to determine what is the allocation strategy that's best going to serve the residents of our community,” Avula said.

Prince William County Delegate Hala Ayala, who is also a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor said she thinks Gov. Northam’s vaccination plan will work out in the end for Virginians.

“We're going to get these vaccinations in the arms of Virginians,” she said. “We're building out the infrastructure needed to give more vaccinations and when the supply from the federal government increases, we'll be ready to move those doses into their arms very quickly.”

But not everyone is happy.

INOVA Health System recently announced due to the change in Virginia’s vaccine distribution method, its allocation of vaccine has been severely diminished.

“Causing us to make the difficult decision to prioritize the available doses,” an INOVA spokesperson said in a statement.

Now, due to supply limitations, INOVA says it has canceled all first dose appointments as of January 26 for the foreseeable future.

As a result of INOVA’s announcement, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers is asking Fairfax County Public Schools to change its return to school plans.

“We were shocked to find out today that Inova is canceling vaccine appointments for FCPS employees due to vaccination shortages,” said FCFT Union President Tina Williams in a statement. “Educators want more than anyone to be back in schools, but COVID-19 continues to surge in our community. We urge Fairfax County Public Schools to alter the return to school timeline given the current health metrics and this unfortunate shift in vaccine availability for school staff.”

Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to further comment on Virginia’s vaccination plan during a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Governor says he is expected to announce the next steps the Commonwealth will take.

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