BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – For those 75 years and older, along with those in Phase 1b, the COVID-19 vaccine is now available in Southwest Virginia, and not only at the health department.
Cumberland Plateau, Mount Rogers and LENOWISCO Health Districts all entered Phase 1b Monday.
“Phase 1b includes many essential functions, the top three tiers are law enforcement, firefighters, hazmat, followed by number two, corrections officers and homeless shelter workers followed by number three, K-12 staff and teachers, as well as daycare staff,” Dr. Karen Shelton, Director for Mount Rogers Health District and Interim Director for Cumberland Plateau and LENOWISCO Health Districts said.
Those categorized under Phase 1b include:
- Police, fire, hazmat
- Corrections and homeless shelter workers
- Childcare/K-12 teachers/staff
- Food and agriculture
- Grocery store workers
- Public transit workers
- Mail carriers (USPS and private)
According to the Virginia Department of health, the following figures offer estimates for the number of people who are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, statewide:
- Frontline Essential Workers – 667,000+
- Persons Age 75 and older – 550,000
- People living in correctional facilities – 25,000+
COVID-19 vaccines for Virginia residents 75 and older are available through some health care providers and pharmacies and local health department off-site clinics. Vaccination supply is still limited but will continue to increase moving forward.
“We know that our elderly population has had a very hard time with COVID,” Shelton said. “Those who are 75 and older have been at highest risk of severe disease as well as mortality, unfortunately.”
The Virginia Department of Health partnered with Ballad Health and Food City to offer vaccines to those 75 years and older. According to Shelton, about 19,000 or 10% of the population in the Mount Rogers Health District, fall into this category.
Ballad Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to patients already established with the hospital system, who are 75 years and older in Southwest Virginia.
“We’ve got those patients that are already in our system, so that allows us to go ahead and have that work process in place, knowing that the other alternative for anybody over 75 that may not be established with us, does have the health department, so that kind of is the ‘divide and conquer’ approach that we’re going to take,” Ballad Health Chief Prevention Officer Jamie Swift told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.
Swift said the vaccination initiative is an important part of saving the lives of those most vulnerable in Southwest Virginia.
“We’ know, 75 and older, if you look at our data, those are the most at-risk, they’re the most at-risk for hospitalization and death, so if we can start in this high risk population, now that healthcare workers have had their chance to get through, then we really move on to this age-based population,” Swift explained. “We believe that this will be kind of what helps decompress the hospital just a little bit.”
Some Food City Pharmacies throughout Southwest Virginia will also be providing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Food City President and Chief Executive Officer Steve Smith told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that the grocery chain offered drive-thru COVID-19 testing in the Summer and Fall of 2020, so it was expectant to offer the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It was natural that when we got to this point and we could augment their administration of the vaccine, we had our immunizers ready,” Smith said.
This week, Smith explained that Food City stores in Southwest Virginia each received roughly 60-80 COVID-19 vaccines to distribute to those 75 years and older.
The following lists addresses for Food City pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccinations to the abovementioned population:
- 100 Bonham Road, Bristol, VA
- 3004 US Highway 23 North, Weber City, VA
- 1320 Euclid Avenue, Euclid Avenue Shopping Center, Bristol, VA
- 151 Cook Street, Abingdon, VA
- 1135 Claypool Hill Mall Road, Cedar Bluff, VA
- P.O. Box 799, 18765 Riverside Drive, Vansant, VA
- 910 N. Main St., Marion, VA
- P.O. Box 278, 145 West Lee Hwy., Chilhowie, VA
- 1000 Leatherwood Lane, Bluefield, VA
- 736 North Beaver Dam Avenue, P.O. Box 577, Damascus, VA
- 955-A East Stuart Drive, P.O. Box 1308, Galax, VA
- Woody’s Pharmacy, 576 E. Main Street, Independence, VA
- 159 Pittston Road, P.O. Box 1988, Lebanon, VA
- 603 Wood Ave. East, Big Stone Gap, VA
- P. O. Box 789, 410 Chase St., Clintwood, VA
- 205 River Bend Dr., Suite 102, Pennington Gap, VA
- 207 Woodland Dr. SW, Wise, VA