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COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Down For Weekend

Woman with syringe
A nurse prepares a vaccine syringe during a January mass vaccination event. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Virginians will be unable to pre-register for the COVID-19 this weekend as the state prepares to roll out it’s new, central registration system.

Over the weekend, the Virginia Department of Health will work to clean registration lists from local health districts, removing duplicate entries and those who’ve already received the vaccine. On Tuesday, all registration in the state, with the exception of the Fairfax Health District, will be done through a new statewide system. 

On a Friday call with reporters, Dr. Danny Avula, who’s leading the state’s vaccine rollout, said the centralized system will help the state deal with the overwhelming demand for the vaccine.

“When we moved into [Phase] 1b, and really massively shifted the supply demand curve, that clearly overwhelmed all of us,” he said. “This centralized process, it allows us to have consistency to kind of follow the guidelines that were crafted at the state level.”

In addition to offering an online registration platform, the central system will also offer Virginians the option to register by phone, something not all health districts offered previously. 

Despite the move to centralized registration, local health districts will still have control over who is given the vaccine, which Avula says provides them with needed flexibility. 

“We don’t have the science or the ability to assign a risk order criteria, so there’s got to be some room on the ground for providers to make decisions about which types of underlying conditions do we push to the front of the line, and which types of conditions do we ask to wait,” he said.

Currently, Virginia allocates vaccinations to localities based primarily on their population. Avula noted, however, that as more people are vaccinated and vaccine supply increases, it’s likely that will have to change as vaccine supply outpaces demand in certain locations.

“In a particular community, you’re going to move through your demand at different rates. And different segments of our state are going to have different desire for the vaccine,” Avula said.

He cited four primary factors the state would use to determine allocations: proportion of older residents, proportion of Black and Latino residents, hospitalization and death rates and the number of essential workers.

“What I’d like to try to do is to get that into more of a formula, but really so much of it depends on weekly supply that that will kind of morph from week to week,” Avula said.

As of Friday, about 271,000 Virginians have been fully vaccinated against the virus, while roughly 11% of the state has received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to VDH.

Connor Scribner is a former VPM News assistant editor.
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