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Virginia Department of Health wants to improve speed of COVID-19 vaccinations

According to the VDH vaccine dashboard, 21% of distributed vaccine doses have been given to health care workers and people in senior homes.

NORFOLK, Va. — Virginia Department of Health (VDH) leaders said they want to improve how quickly people are getting COVID-19 vaccinations. 

As of Jan. 5, the health department distributed 481,550 vaccine doses across the commonwealth. The department's vaccine dashboard showed 21% of those doses have been administered to health care workers and people in senior homes.  

“Lots of room to improve, and we acknowledge that," said Dr. Laurie Forlano, VDH Deputy Commissioner for Population Health. "I do have confidence that this will improve with time. It will never be an exact match, but we would like that margin of error to be smaller.”

Forlano said the ratio will improve as the process get more efficient, and she said she was proud VDH had administered more than 100,000 vaccine doses since December.

“Doses distributed, even in the best of circumstances, takes time," she said. "The scale of this operation is quite large, so I think it’s reasonable to expect that lag time right now, and hopefully it will improve."

Forlano said managing the storage and handling of the vaccines, moving trained vaccinators, and working through pandemic effects are all reasons for the gap.

She also said there are some reporting delays at times when VDH is waiting for confirmation that shots have been given out; however, she did not say what would be a more accurate count.

“I think our main focus and goal is on getting shots into arms, and so the surveillance and reporting and data, that just needs time,” explained Forlano.

Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, the number of vaccine doses listed as distributed on VDH increased by more than 15,000. The same dashboard showed a daily increase of just 1,822 administered shots. 

Forlano said this discrepancy could be evidence of the reporting delays she referenced. She added the health department plans to give out every dose that is distributed.

“That’s the ultimate goal to use every dose optimally and efficiently," Forlano said.

VDH has yet to release guidance on the next stage of vaccine administration which includes offering shots to essential workers and "high-risk" adults.