COVID roundup: Va. now offering vaccines to everyone age 16+
More than half of all adults in state have gotten a shot
All Virginians age 16 and up are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, which you may have heard Monday morning in a loud public safety alert sent to smartphones by the Virginia Department of Health.
All U.S. states met President Joe Biden’s April 19 deadline to expand vaccine eligibility for all adults, regardless of job, age or health status, and half of all adults in the country — 131 million people — have received at least one dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Virginia, 39.9% of the population — 3.4 million people, a little more than half of all adults in the state — have gotten at least one shot, and 25% of the population is fully vaccinated. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine remains on pause while federal authorities study the cause of blood clots that affected six women, killing one in Virginia, days after they received the J&J shot. After CDC and U.S. Food and Drug Administration called April 12 for a pause in administration of the one-dose vaccine, Virginia and the rest of the U.S. immediately stopped using it.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Sunday he expects a decision on the vaccine to be handed down by an advisory group of CDC officials by Friday.
“Today, our message is simple: If you’re an adult, you should get a shot,” Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday afternoon at a COVID news briefing at the new Tysons Community Vaccination Center in Fairfax County. “However you’re able to get an appointment, please get vaccinated. Vaccinations are the only way to get back to normal.”
He was accompanied by U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, who noted that the pandemic has now been in Virginia for 57 weeks and urged all adults to get vaccinated. “We are on the verge of getting this virus licked,” he said.
Although there are exceptions in which communities are allowing walk-in vaccination, appointments are still required at most places. All adult residents of Virginia can now register to get vaccinated at vaccinate.virginia.gov or call (877) VAX-IN-VA, or (877) 829-4682.
Over the past week, the state recorded 10,249 new COVID-19 cases, a small decrease from the previous week, which saw 10,691 cases, and 109 people died last week of virus-related causes, VDH reported. As of Monday, the state has reported 647,111 total cases and 10,595 deaths, and the current seven-day positivity rate is 6.1%, the same as last week.
The state now ranks 14th in the nation for percentage of vaccine doses administered, according to CDC data analyzed by Becker’s Hospital Review.
According to the University of Virginia’s COVID-19 model, three health districts — Mount Rogers in Southwest Virginia, Rappahannock Rapidan in the northwestern part of the state, and Alexandria — are currently seeing a surge in COVID cases, defined as “sustained rapid growth and exceeds recent inflection points.” Districts experiencing slow growth include: Eastern Shore, Henrico County, Lenowisco, Loudoun County, Lord Fairfax, Norfolk, Prince William County, Rappahannock, Richmond and Western Tidewater.
With race and ethnicity information available for only 59.6% of people who have received shots in the state, the majority of shots have been received by white, non-Hispanic people — 64.3% as of Monday, according to VDH. Black Virginians have received 14.1% of shots, although they make up 19.9% of the state’s population, according to 2019 estimates by the U.S. Census; 9.8% of vaccines were given to Latino residents, who comprise about 9.8% of Virginians.
State health officials have focused attention on equitable administration of vaccinations, especially as Latino and Black residents are heavily represented among people who have been infected, hospitalized and died from the coronavirus. Among Virginia’s COVID deaths for which ethnicity and race were recorded, 24.7% were Black, and 6.4% were Latino.
As of April 15, the following health districts have positivity rates of 10% or higher:
- Hampton — 10.7%, down from 10.9% on April 9
- Portsmouth — 10.4%, up from 9.9%
- Chesapeake — 10.2%, up from 9.6%
- Mount Rogers —10.1%, down from 14.2%
Globally, there are 141.5 million reported COVID-19 cases and 3,022,265 confirmed deaths, as of April 19. The United States, which has the most confirmed cases and deaths worldwide, has seen 31.6 million confirmed cases so far, with 567,233 deaths attributed to the coronavirus since February 2020. According to the CDC, 131.2 million U.S. residents have received at least one vaccine dose, or 39.5% of the nation’s population, and 84.2 million people, or 25.4% of the U.S. population, are fully vaccinated.