VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Health departments in Northern Virginia and Southwest Virginia expanded vaccinations to "frontline essential workers" and at-risk adults Monday, while Hampton Roads health departments continue to provide vaccines to their first wave of recipients: healthcare workers and senior centers.
The Virginia Department of Health says all areas of Virginia are expected to start Phase 1b vaccinations by the end of January – but some will start sooner than others, to speed up the vaccination process.
Phase 1b includes essential workers like teachers, first responders, grocery store workers, public transit workers and people working in food, manufacturing and government industries, among other groups.
It also includes adults who are at least 75 years old, and people living and working in jails, homeless shelters and "migrant labor camps."
VDH says the difference in vaccine rollouts phases isn't related to COVID-19 testing or cases.
The health department said some areas – like Hampton Roads – have more healthcare workers and seniors in nursing homes who need to get the vaccine first.
“It depends on a lot of factors, the supply of the vaccine, the demand that we’ve discussed, and making sure we’ve had an opportunity to offer vaccines to everyone in these first two categories first," said Dr. Laurie Forlano, VDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health.
Local health departments will individually announce expanded vaccine rollouts moving forward.
“We’re grateful for enthusiasm and excitement around vaccine," Forlano said. "Stories of joy and hope from long-term care facilities watching their patients get vaccinated and just an overwhelming sense of relief, those stories are what keep us going.”
VDH now offers an online quiz to find out which phase of the vaccination rollout applies to you - you can access it here.