COVID-19: Officials express frustration with wait for vaccine distribution plan approval

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One step closer: Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE have applied for a FDA emergency use authorization for their coronavirus vaccine. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Unsplash)
Peninsula localities released a statement on Monday noting their frustration about the COVID-19 vaccine delays. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of Unsplash)

In a joint statement on Monday, local county and city administrators expressed frustration with delays in COVID-19 vaccinations as the communities await distribution plan approval from the Virginia Department of Health.

“We are all frustrated by the lack of vaccination availability here on the Peninsula,” officials said in a Jan. 18 press release. “Currently, the vaccine is ordered, stored, and issued by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the healthcare systems.” 

The City of Williamsburg, James City County, York County, the City of Hampton, the City of Newport News, and the City of Poquoson are working as “regional partners to establish three vaccination clinic sites on the Peninsula,” according to the release.

“We have submitted these plans to the VDH for review, guidance, and ultimately approval,”the release said. “We expect this to occur this week, and we are hopeful that our clinics will receive the first doses of the vaccine in short order.”  

“This will allow the localities to assist VDH and the health systems in vaccinating our citizens according to the CDC’s phased plan,” according to the news release.

Officials asked for patience while expressing understanding of the challenges facing the community due to the lack of an announced action plan.

“We agree that being patient while waiting for a vaccine to be available for everyone is challenging when little information is available regarding when or how you will get access,” officials said. “We cannot provide details of our planning because they may change based on VDH review.”

“We do not want to add to the confusion by changing announced plans more than is necessary,” the joint statement read.

Local officials assured the planned clinics will have the capacity and sufficient staff to meet the needs of the community, however, warned that they will be limited by the amount of vaccine provided to each clinic.

The statement was signed by Williamsburg City Manager Andrew Trivette, James City County Administrator Scott Stevens, York County Administrator Neil Morgan, Newport News City Manager Cindy Rohlf, Hampton City Manager Mary Bunting and Poquoson City Manager Randy Wheeler.

Residents with “urgent questions” regarding the vaccination process can call the Peninsula Health District at 757-594-7069. 

For more information, you can visit the localities’ websites here: James City County, York County and Williamsburg.

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