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Governor funds new COVID-19 vaccination program

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Gov. Northam announced the state will use CARES Act money to fund the state's vaccine distribution program on Friday. This photo was taken before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Virginia is creating a new program to distribute COVID-19 vaccines in preparation for their approval for public use. 

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday he’s setting aside $22 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to get the program up and running. 

“We look forward to the day that a safe vaccine for COVID-19 is available for public use, so that we can get closer to living normal lives,” Northam said in a statement. “We want to be ready to help Virginians get that vaccine as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible.”

The money will support the Virginia Department of Health in planning the program through the end of the year. This includes pinpointing priority populations to receive the vaccine, hiring additional staff to manage the effort and launching a public information campaign.

However, VDH estimates it will need another $98 million to fully establish the program. The state has yet to determine how it will fund the program in 2021.

There are several COVID-19 vaccines currently being developed. State officials anticipate they’ll be finalized and distributed in the coming months. 

Virginia submitted its draft vaccination plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

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