Saturday, June 15, 2024

Vaccinations move to Phase 1b in the Historic Triangle. Here’s what localities are doing to help

Sarah Bottiglieri, a pre-school teacher at Laurel Lane Elementary School receives a dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the City of Williamsburg)
Sarah Bottiglieri, a pre-school teacher at Laurel Lane Elementary School receives a dose of the Moderna vaccine at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center. (WYDaily/ Courtesy of the City of Williamsburg)

Beginning today, the Peninsula Health District has moved the COVID-19 vaccination into “Phase 1b” priority groups, according to a news release from the district.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, Phase 1b includes front-line essential workers, people ages 65 and up, peoples ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps. 

Gov. Ralph Northam announced last Thursday he is moving people 65 and older into Phase 1B in accordance with the revised guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Though there is no timeline for when Virginia will move from phase to phase, Northam directed VDH to allow health districts to move through the phases at their own pace.

RELATED STORY: Northam: COVID-19 vaccine now available to residents 65 and over; those with co-morbidities

“Our focus will be front-line workers, those living in congregate settings and people 75 years of age and over,” the news release from the PHD stated. 

As defined by VDH, front-line essential workers include: 

  • Police, Fire, and Hazmat
  • Corrections and homeless shelter workers
  • Childcare/PreK-12 Teachers/Staff (public and private)
  • Food and Agriculture (including veterinarians)
  • Manufacturing
  • Grocery store workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Mail carriers (USPS and private)
  • Officials needed to maintain continuity of government (including judges and public facing judicial workers)

The complete definitions of all phases, data and other information, are on VDH’s Vaccine Response website

“Vaccine supply remains limited,” Dr. Natasha Dwamena, PHD director, said in a statement from the news release. “So we are starting with the people most at risk for infection and death.”

“On the Peninsula that is people over 75 years and older, those living in congregate setting,” she added.

RELATED STORY: Peninsula Health District expands COVID-19 vaccinations to ‘Phase 1b’ priority recipients

The VDH’s data shows that as of Friday, 48,034 Virginians have been fully vaccinated, while 376,823 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 

On Friday, Williamsburg-James City County Schools staff began receiving the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. They are the first group to receive vaccinations at a temporary clinic established at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center, according to a news release from the City of Williamsburg.

“The start of the vaccination process, coupled the consistent use of masks, social distancing and cleaning protocols in schools, strengthen our ability to bring students back to classrooms safely,” Olwen Herron, WJCC Schools superintendent, said in a statement from the news release.

This clinic is not yet open to the public, and the City of Williamsburg requests the public allows the workers at these sites to work without interruption.

An announcement will be made when the sites open for public vaccination.

“By starting with a smaller pool of people, we are able to test our processes within the clinic and make adjustments for when we have enough vaccine supply to open it to the general public,” Williamsburg City Manager Andrew O. Trivette said in a prepared statement.

The clinic at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center is one of three vaccination clinics to open on the Peninsula this week. The other two clinics within the PHD are located at the Hampton Roads Convention Center and Christopher Newport University.

These clinics will soon be capable of serving large numbers of people each operational day once enough vaccine supply is made available. Existing medical staff, including school nurses, from each PHD locality will serve as vaccinators.

The Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center will remain closed to guests until the facility is no longer needed for this initiative.

As of Friday, a total of 4,758 vaccine doses have been administered in Williamsburg, James City and York Counties, according to the City of Williamsburg’s COVID-19 data dashboard.

As of Friday, 12 vaccines have been administered in the Williamsburg, 1,695 vaccines in York County, and 3,051 vaccines in James City County.

The vaccine data shows locality based on where the person who received the vaccine lives, not where the vaccine was administered.  

Last week, the City of Williamsburg announced city staff is working with Riverside, Sentara Healthcare, the PHD, and nearby localities to stand up mass vaccination clinics to increase the number of vaccines administered locally, according to a news release from the City of Williamsburg.

An initial group of Williamsburg Fire Department paramedics have received training to administer the vaccines. WFD personnel will soon be trained on the state’s scheduling and management program for the vaccination process as well.

In conjunction with James City County, Williamsburg plans to vaccinate interested city and county employees who fall under the appropriate phased categories in the coming weeks.

The PHD has also committed to opening a secondary clinic in its Ironbound Road location, which will likely open in the next couple weeks. As vaccine supply increases, it is expected that pharmacy chains and local doctors’ offices will be able to join the effort.

Planning teams from the PHD are reaching out to employers in Phase 1b, and soon the district will implement an automated scheduling system. 

VDH has created a questionnaire to help people learn which category of the phased distribution system they fall under. 

In the meantime, priority Phase 1b individuals can register online via the PHD’s website here or dial 757-594-7496 and leave information at the prompt.  

All points of dispensing and vaccination clinics are by appointment only. Eligible people will be called in the order in which the call was received.


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