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Vaccination Opens for All Virginians 16+

Man speaking into microphones
Gov. Ralph Northam speaks at a January mass vaccination event. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Gov. Ralph Northam struck a celebratory tone Monday while updating Virginians on the state’s response to COVID-19 and vaccination progress.

One in four Virginians have now been fully vaccinated against the virus, while just under 40% have received at least one dose. The state is administering around 75,000 doses each day.

On Sunday, vaccination opened up to all Virginians age 16 and older. Virginians can pre-register for their shot online or by calling (877) 829-4682.

“I hope and I recommend that everyone take advantage of that,” Northam said. “Today, our message is simple. If you’re an adult, you should get a shot. If you’re older, you should get a shot. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you can get COVID too, you should get a shot.”

He added that despite the vaccine progress, COVID-19 continues to course through Virginia. As of April 12, the Virginia Department of Health is reporting over 1,200 cases of the virus each day. That number dropped swiftly throughout January and February, following a peak of nearly 6,000 cases per day on Jan. 8, but has remained relatively stable since March.

Deaths caused by the coronavirus have fallen as well. Roughly 60 Virginians die from the virus each week, down from a peak of nearly 600 weekly deaths in January. Unlike case counts, deaths have continued to fall into the spring.

Hospitalizations, however, have followed a similar pattern to case counts, bouncing between 35 and 45 per day since early March. Sen. Mark Warner, in attendance for the briefing, said Virginians must continue to protect each other from the virus.

“If you haven’t got a shot, get a shot. This is not a question of politics. It’s not a question of who you like or don’t like for president. It’s about whether you care about yourself, your family, your neighbors, your community, ” he said.

The state’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, said it remains unclear when the federal government will advise states to continue issuing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but he noted Virginia received an additional 15,000 first doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to supplement the loss of the single-dose vaccine.

Avula also said the state hopes to expand its monitoring of the spread of COVID-19 variants. Last week, the first two cases of the P.1 variant, first identified in Brazil, were reported in the commonwealth. Nationwide, around 44% of new COVID-19 cases are the B.117 variant first identified in the U.K, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since the pandemic began, the state has identified over 647,000 cases of the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 10,600 Virginians.

Connor Scribner is the assistant news editor at VPM News and also reports on the housing market and public housing. Connor has worked at VPM News for about three years and has lived around Richmond for nearly their whole life. In their free time, Connor enjoys playing games with their spouse and taking long walks through the city without their phone.