This week, the Central Shenandoah Health District began vaccinating those in the 1b prioritization category, which include adults over the age of 65, child care providers and K-12 teachers, according to a press release from a health district spokesperson, Laura Lee Wight.
Also included are workers in essential manufacturing, transit, grocery stores and the postal sector.
State residents over the age of 64 can email CSHDInfo@VDH.Virginia.Gov to begin the process of getting a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a Monday press release from CSHD.
State health workers will be contacting 1b employers to arrange vaccinations. Workers in the 1b category interested in knowing more can email CSHD_esf8@VDH.Virginia.Gov.
The health district includes Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, along with the counties of Augusta, Rockbridge, Bath and Highland and the cities of Staunton, Waynesboro, Lexington and Buena Vista.
Those in the 1b category will get the vaccine at “point of dispensing” clinics, or POD clinics, according to the CSHD release. Those being vaccinated at POD clinics are required to bring an ID such as a driver’s license and show proof they fall into the 1b category.
Eight out of 10 COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Americans 65 or older, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. The virus is roughly 630 times as deadly to those 85 and older than to people aged 18 to 29. For patients 65 to 74, the virus is 64 times as deadly compared to young adults.
A mass vaccination clinic for those with appointments will be held at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, according to Rockingham County Fire and Rescue Chief Jeremy Holloway.
“As far as the general public, you can’t just show up and get a shot,” Holloway said.
Those with appointments include health care workers and other essential employees, such as public safety workers. The clinic will be run by Virginia Department of Health employees from the Central Shenandoah Health District.
Holloway said there will be an announcement when the public will be able to get vaccinations at a mass clinic like Wednesday’s.
“That’s probably not going happen for a while yet because we’re still working on essential workers,” he said.
Vaccinations have been ongoing across the area at long-term care facilities, Sentara RMH Medical Center and the Port Republic Road Emergency Response Station.
Local first responders began getting vaccinated on Dec. 23, and some will be getting their second dose on Wednesday, Holloway said.
Roughly 1,000 area local health care providers and first responders have been vaccinated at least once, and none had adverse reactions to the inoculation, according to Holloway.
The vaccination clinic will move from the county fire station to the fairgrounds because of the need for more space since more people are able to be vaccinated and the supply of doses has increased, he said.
On Wednesday, some people will receive their first vaccine dose and others will receive their second, Holloway said.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine require two doses and have both been approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The first shot of the Pfizer vaccine grants 50% immunity after 12 days. After 21 days, a second shot can be administered. The second shot also has a ramp-up time of effectiveness, but eventually gives those who receive it 95% immunity to the virus, according to Mark Nesbit, a Sentara RMH doctor who was the first person to be locally vaccinated on Dec. 17.
More mass vaccination clinics are being planned for the future, Holloway said.
“We’re slated every Wednesday upcoming or [at] another location, but more than likely, it’s going to take place at the fairgrounds,” Holloway said.
CSHD workers have been effective at making sure vaccine dose are reaching people instead of sitting on shelves, according to Holloway. Other areas have seen delays as the vaccine rollout has hit road bumps and logistical issues in localities, statewide and nationally.
Adverse reactions have been identified in only 0.2% of people who have received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Nearly 2 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine had been given out by Jan. 7, and there were only 4,393 adverse reactions and only 175 have been slated for further review of possible severe allergic reaction. There have been 21 cases of anaphylaxis — a severe allergic reaction — occurring in roughly 0.0011% of people who received the inoculation, according to CDC data from Jan. 7.
As of Monday, the total number of Rockingham County cases of the novel coronavirus surpassed the city’s total number of cases since the virus was first detected in the area in March.
The county has recorded 5,065 cases, 256 hospitalizations and 62 deaths, while 53 city residents have died from the virus, 141 have been hospitalized and a total of 5,059 cases identified.
On Sunday, the state recorded nearly 10,000 new cases in a single day. Hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise at a higher rate.