The county held what it hopes will be the first of many COVID-19 vaccination clinics Wednesday after press time.
Last week, emergency services coordinator John Sherer announced the county would receive 350 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed at the fire hall to those in the 1b vaccination group who have already responded to the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District’s (RRHD) survey. In January, RRHD created surveys for essential workers and individuals included in the 1b phase of vaccination who wished to be vaccinated. Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers including K-12 teachers and staff; grocery store workers; migrant farmworkers; corrections facility employees and those incarcerated; and those working or living in homeless shelters. Those over 75 years of age are also included. The surveys were flooded with responses, causing the district to close them for several days to play catch up. They’ve since been reopened, but the number of people wishing to be vaccinated far outweighs the district’s vaccine supply.
According to district health director Dr. Wade Kartchner, the Rappahannock Rapidan Health District, along with the rest of the state, is facing a severe shortage of vaccine in relation to demand. He said only 600-1,500 doses of vaccine are expected in the district each week for the next four to eight weeks. There are nearly 25,000 people in the queue waiting to be vaccinated. Those vaccinated on Wednesday were Madison County residents in that queue.
Sherer said the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office was calling the locals on the list to setup an appointment. He said personnel from the office would also help check people in for their appointments with support via borrowed Chromebooks from the Madison County Public Schools.
“A lot of people in the county are stepping up to the plate,” Sherer said last week when discussing the clinic. He said school nurses had also volunteered to administer the vaccines and steps were being taken to utilize the county’s EMS personnel as well.
The clinic was created as kind of an ad hoc thing with Sherer being notified Sunday, Jan. 26 that the county would be receiving the vaccine doses for distribution. He said the plan is to have everything in place so that when more doses become available, they can be administered.
Sherer encouraged anyone who has not already done so to fill out the RRHD surveys at www.rrhd.org. Those without email access can call 877-275-8343. A Madison hotline has also been setup at 948-7532 to assist with registering for the vaccine. He said anyone receiving the first dose of the vaccine will be contacted to make an appointment to receive the required second dose as well. He said he hopes the local vaccination clinics will continue.
On Monday, RRHD Population Health Coordinator April Achter said Virginia will receive approximately 106,000 first doses of the vaccine per week for the next few weeks with district allocations made based on population. RRHD has approximately 2% of the state’s population and is expected to receive 2,075 doses for the next four to eight weeks. She said the district will utilize 1,100 Moderna doses at a central site while 975 Pfizer doses will be split among the five localities according to population. Madison County has approximately 7% of the health district’s population. Culpeper Medical Center has been selected to assist with Madison County vaccine distributions. Achter said as part of the goal to get shots in arms, each organization must use 90% of their allocated doses each week or have their remaining allocations adjusted. She said the goal is to have everyone vaccinated by this summer.