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Richmond and Henrico Health Districts expand home vaccinations to all

AP Photo / Ted S. Warren

A program limited to elderly and home-bound residents of Richmond and Henrico is now open to anyone, the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts announced Wednesday in a press release.

The health districts said that the program was previously limited to the elderly, ill, elderly, and those who had difficulty leaving their home, but lower demand enabled an expansion of the program.

Doses on Demand, as the program is now called, is not a state-wide program, said Alexis Page with the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Epidemiology. Page said that most local health districts help those who are limited to their house on some level with getting vaccinated.

The program represents evolving efforts to vaccinate more Virginians as the number of the unvaccinated continues to decline. 72.5% of Virginians are fully vaccinated, and that number is even higher for adults - 82%. Still, five counties in Virginia have less than 50% of their population with a vaccine dose.

New vaccine doses statewide are at their lowest point since the vaccine was first introduced.

After the initial vaccination roll-out, new vaccination doses tended to follow waves of infection in Virginia. As of Friday, the 7-day average of new doses was 3,891. In December during the surge of infections driven by the Omicron variant, new vaccine doses numbered 10 times that amount.

Completing a vaccine course also offers more protection. Last week, unvaccinated people developed COVID-19 at a rate 6.5 times more than the fully vaccinated.

“Now we feel pretty confident that most people in our neighborhoods that needed that service have gotten it and demand has been decreasing, but we still have our staff that are trained and ready to go,” said Joanna Cirillo, a nurse supervisor at the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts.”

Cirillo says they are reaching out to specific groups too - like refugee resettlement agencies and programs for children with special needs. But those wanting to schedule an appointment, can do so over the phone by calling 804-205-3501.

RHHD says a team should be able to visit you within two weeks.

Many local health departments help those who are home-bound get a vaccination at home, like the Chesterfield and Chickahominy health districts. You can contact your health department to see what services are available in your area or schedule walk-in appointments at https://vaccinate.virginia.gov.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Jahd Khalil is a reporter and producer in Richmond.