Valley Health has planned COVID-19 vaccination clinics at three of its Virginia hospitals starting Wednesday, but the community still has no way to sign up for appointments.
The health care system had announced late on Friday that it would begin offering all-day vaccination points of dispensing (PODs) at Warren Memorial, Shenandoah Memorial, Page Memorial and Shenandoah University’s James R. Wilkins Jr. Athletics & Events Center.
Registration is required to attend Valley Health’s vaccination PODs.
A Valley Health news release on Friday states that a statewide vaccination registration system was being developed and was expected to be available starting Monday at valleyhealthlink.com.
On Monday, Dr. Colin Greene, director of the Lord Fairfax Health Department, said the site, in the short term, would not be operated through the Virginia Department of Health.
People, he said, can access it through Valley Health’s website and that the health care system will be taking the lead on scheduling vaccines.
The site, which could be available starting today, will be constructed by PrepMod online software system through the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, Carol Weare, a Valley Health spokesperson, confirmed.
In a Monday evening email, she states that the Valley Health team had “just gotten access to Prep Mod” and was entering POD information into the site in hopes of beginning registering individuals today.
Valley Health is asking the community to be patient during this process.
“[A]ppointment times will vary by site and vaccine availability,” the email states. “Evening appointments will be available. ... Individuals will need to verify eligibility during the registration process.”
As of Monday afternoon, a notice at valleyhealthlink.com/patients-visitors/coronavirus-covid-19-updates/covid-19-vaccinations referred website visitors to the Virginia Department of Health’s website vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine for more information on accessing the vaccine.
The VDH site lists groups of people who can access the vaccine, but not where they can access it locally.
Though Valley Health’s vaccine PODs will be accessible by appointment only, the Health Department is accepting walk-ins for free vaccinations at community PODs.
On Monday, the Lord Fairfax Health District vaccinated more than 900 people at the Boyce Fire Hall in Clarke County, Greene said.
“We had an exuberant response,” he said.
The response was much larger than he expected, and though Greene called the effort successful, he regretted that people had to stand out in the cold waiting on their turn to come inside the building.
However, everyone who showed up received a vaccine from Health Department employees and a retired public health nurse from Clarke County. Greene said spontaneous “volunteers” waiting in line for their own vaccines jumped into action to help fellow patients who showed signs of fatigue or discomfort from the cold.
Some older patients were admitted sooner so they wouldn’t have to wait as long, he said.
Most of the 910 people vaccinated on Monday were over the age of 75, Greene said.
The health district had previously said a household spouse or partner of a person older than 75 would be allowed to receive a vaccination at Monday’s POD clinic.
“Persons vaccinated in this group will have arrangements made to receive their second vaccine as well,” a Friday health district news release explained.
Though unclear where the patients drove from, Greene said many came from Winchester.
He estimates that 10 or 15 seniors in a crowd of about 900 could easily have died from COVID-19 without having received the vaccine.
“That’s how many lives were potentially saved today,” he said.
Greene said the health district hopes to have another POD in Boyce on Friday. Information is posted at tinyurl.com/y47yyvow.
“Right now we have enough vaccine,” he said Monday afternoon. “We brought more in because we needed it. We had enough that we ... could run several vaccine clinics.”
Information at the VDH website identifies groups of people eligible for the vaccines that Valley Health and the Health Department will be offering.
There at the site, people can learn if they are members of a high-risk age group or essential worker group included in the first three phases of the VDH vaccination response.
Phase 1a includes frontline health-care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities.
Phase 1b is attending to people 75 and older as well as frontline essential workers in the following order:
• Police, fire and Hazmat
• Corrections and homeless shelter workers
• Child care/PreK-12 teachers/staff
• Food and agriculture (including veterinarians)
• Grocery store workers
• Public transit workers
• Mail carriers (USPS and private)
• Officials needed to maintain continuity of government
Phase 1c will attend to people 65 and older, people 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, and other essential workers:
• Waste, wastewater, and waste removal workers (includes recycling removal workers)
• Housing construction
• Transportation and logistics
• Institutions of higher education faculty/staff
• Information technology & communication
• Legal services
• Public safety (engineers)
• Other public health workers
Virginia is in phases 1a and 1b. A start date for Phase 1c has not been scheduled, but Phase 1b was expected to take Virginia “well into the springtime to get all of these folks the two shots that they require,” Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference last week.
On Monday, the VDH reported that 174,153 people have received at least one vaccine dose, an increase of 8,955 from the 165,198 doses reported on Sunday, and 15,130 people fully vaccinated, an increase of 2,383 from the 12,747 reported on Sunday.
Locally, Frederick County reported 1,655 vaccinations (up 22) as of Monday morning, Winchester 2,029 (up 29), Clarke County 407 (up six), Warren County 658 (up 31), Shenandoah County 1,031 (up 18) and Page County 326 (up six).
Shenandoah County Public Schools, which on Friday announced Central High School would be on a virtual learning plan until Jan. 15, announced Monday that W.W. Robinson Elementary, on the same campus in Woodstock, will be, too. Central has reported one student and three staff members with COVID-19. Robinson has one student with an active case of COVID.
Harrisonburg has reported 4,833 cases (up 50), 133 hospitalizations (up two) and 47 deaths.
Rockingham County has reported 4,638 cases (up 36), 239 hospitalizations (up two) and 48 deaths.