What’s coming up, how the pharmacy programs work, and how to make sure you’re registered.
Dr. Danny Avula, Virginia’s state vaccine coordinator, said last Friday that by mid-April, Virginians in category 1c will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 jab. Group 1c includes essential workers in energy, construction, food service, transportation, higher education, finance, legal services, public safety, information technology and media. The window for that group will be relatively short, Avula said, and by May 1, every adult in the commonwealth will be eligible for a vaccine.
“The months of April and May are going to be our highest supply totals and our highest outputs and really where I think we can make significant progress on getting our state vaccinated,” Avula said. And the Virginia Department of Health has set the ambitious goal, he added, of administering at least one dose to every Virginian who wants one by May 31.
Between the federal pharmacy partnership and the state’s vaccine program, more than 55,000 Virginians are getting vaccinated each day. He said in most places in the state, vaccinators are “pretty deep into the 65 and up lists … I imagine we will be through the 65 and up category if their registration is correct in the next couple of weeks.”
But despite the good news, some eligible Rappahannock residents still haven’t been able to get their shots. “I’ve registered on the VA site, and have not gotten any recent updates, yet all around me I hear about fellow citizens getting the vaccination outside of the Rappahannock Rapidan Health area and people getting vaccinated at the CVS in Warrenton, etc, etc,” wrote a frustrated Alan Zuschlag on Facebook. “Yet, when I try to pursue such options I get no headway. How are people able to circumvent the queue? Or are there other options out there that I'm not aware of?”
“It is a little bit confusing and that’s unfortunate,” said Dr. Colin Greene, director of the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District. “But there are two different pharmacy programs. The first one is the federal pharmacy program where certain pharmacies get vaccines directly from the federal government,” he said.
“And then the other is just local pharmacies with whom the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District has arranged to share vaccines with so they can actually administer them.”
For eligible vaccine recipients, the most relevant difference between the federal and local pharmacy programs is this: local pharmacies are plugged into the VDH’s database, but the federal pharmacies are not.
That means that CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, Giant, Martin’s, Kroger and any other Virginia pharmacy receiving doses from the federal partnership has its very own vaccine registration portal.
“The health department and the hospital partners are mostly pulling off that vaccinate.virginia.gov list, but I can’t swear to you that every last pharmacy is doing that. So the best thing would be to check the pharmacy’s website and see what the best place to sign up is,” Greene said.
Greene explained the reason they’re not all using the same database is because of statewide software snafus making it difficult to “[get] one system to download to the other in a secure way … and in a correct way where it doesn’t mix up boxes with first and last names.”
How to register
All adults who want a COVID-19 vaccine must pre-register with the Virginia Department of Health at vaccinate.virginia.gov, or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (1-877-829-4682).
What if you’re eligible, registered and haven’t gotten a call?
Dr. Danny Avula advised anyone in the 1b eligibility group to make sure their information is updated in the state’s system if they haven’t yet received a call. “It’s possible that they perhaps spelled an email address wrong, or didn’t provide a phone number, or just need to kind of update their date of birth information because we did have a lot of incomplete records,” he said.
There are no available walk-in vaccine clinics in our area at this time.
More information about local vaccination efforts
Rappahannock Rapidan Health District: rrhd.org
Fauquier Health: fauquierhealth.org/covid-19-vaccination-information
‘Federal pharmacies’ with vaccine doses in our area
People who are eligible for vaccination and are interested in getting vaccinated at their local pharmacy should check the pharmacy’s website to find out if vaccine is available.
CVS (Culpeper, Front Royal, Luray, Warrenton)
Martin’s (Culpeper, Front Royal)
Walgreens (Culpeper, Warrenton)
Walmart (Culpeper, Front Royal, Luray, Warrenton)
Where to find vaccination centers
For an updated list of vaccination centers in our area, check out Vaccine Finder, a tool developed in collaboration between the Boston Children’s Hospital, Centers for Disease Control, Harvard Business School and Castlight. Use the tool online at vaccinefinder.org/search/.