RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Some areas of Virginia will soon transition to Phase 1c of the state's vaccine distribution plan and start giving shots to other essential workers.
The department said in a statement Tuesday that those areas will expand vaccination efforts to people who work in fields that include energy, wastewater, construction and food service. Other groups include those who work in higher education, transportation and legal services.
The groups in Phase 1c are considered “essential" to the functioning of society or are at higher risk of exposure.
The state said that some areas will begin the transition this week, including the Eastern Shore and the Danville-Pittsylvania County area. Other areas should be able to expand within weeks.
Before expanding, VDH said, a local health department must have made strong efforts to reach all those eligible in Phase 1a and 1b, particularly communities that have been disproportionately affected. Those include communities of color.
Meanwhile, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that four large-scale vaccination centers are opening to inoculate communities that have been heavily affected by COVID-19 or that face barriers to getting a vaccine.
Three of the centers — in Danville, Portsmouth, South Chesterfield — are starting operations this week. The fourth, in Prince William, should begin operations next week. Shots are by appointment only.
The centers do not replace other local efforts. But they were chosen following an equity analysis that identified communities with high COVID-19 rates. All of the locations have majority Black and Latino populations.
The state began inoculating healthcare personnel and people living in long-term care facilities in December. It then expanded to people over the age of 65, people with underlying health conditions and some front-line workers who are considered essential.
Anyone over age 16 who lives or works in Virginia is expected to be eligible for the vaccine by May 1.