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Officials Prepare for Vaccine Distribution as Soon as Mid-December

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

With recent positive news about COVID-19 vaccines from two major pharmaceutical companies, Virginia is now planning for distribution. State officials say the first round could happen as early as mid-December.

In a presentation to lawmakers Monday, Lilian Peake, the state epidemiologist, says healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff are top of the list for getting a vaccine.

The federal government will be distributing the first round to states based on population size. Peake says that means Virginia will get less than 3% of the initial supply.

“Early on, the vaccine, there likely wouldn’t be enough for all healthcare workers. And so that will have to be broken down into subgroups,” Peake says. “And we’re still working with VHHA (The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association) to determine that.”

According to the state Department of Health Professions, Virginia has more than 380,000 licensed healthcare practitioners. Governor Ralph Northam recently told NPR the state is expecting about 70,000 initial doses.

To distribute the vaccine to nursing homes and other long term care facilities, the federal government will be working with pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens. Those companies will send teams of people into long-term care homes to do vaccinations.

Health officials continue to remind the public that widespread vaccination is months away. Meaning hand washing, mask wearing and social distancing are still critical precautions.

You can find more information from the state aboutvaccines here

Mallory Noe-Payne is a Radio IQ reporter based in Richmond.
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