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New River Health District to Begin Vaccinating Higher Ed Employees and Students

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AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The New River Health District will expand its vaccine eligibility next week and begin vaccinating some university employees and, eventually, students.

Students were not originally included in the Phase 1C eligibility group, but the district’s health director, Dr. Noelle Bissell, said they make up a large portion of the district’s COVID-19 cases.  "Our college students are where we are seeing community spread right now so we want to get them vaccinated so we can reduce that community spread," Bissell told reporters Monday. 

Monday morning, Virginia Tech announced the first clinics planned for its employees.  The announcement said 1,500 doses would be targeted for university employees.  A separate registration will be used for those appointments, according to the announcement.

Bissell estimates there are about 50,000 higher-ed employees and students in the district and another 10,000 other essential workers in the 1C group.  She expects to be able to move through the 1C eligibility group by mid-to-late April, depending on vaccine supply.  "There are a lot of changes and things are moving really quickly over the next couple of weeks," Bissell stressed.

Health officials are also trying to make sure other eligibility groups are completed.  Bissell said any resident of the New River Health District over the age of 65 can be vaccinated at the clinics without an appointment.   Staff will check for residency status.  Those clinics are now being held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at various locations.  Additionally, people who recieved their first Pfizer or Moderna dose at one of the district's clinics do not need to make an appointment for their second dose and can just walk in. Click here for more details