People 65+ and those 16 to 64 with underlying conditions to be eligible for vaccine

The Blue Ridge Health District announced that vaccines will become available starting on Jan. 18 for people 65 and older and for those aged 16 to 64 who have certain underlying health conditions.

The district had previously announced that frontline essential workers and people 75 and older were eligible for vaccines. Governor Ralph Northam said at a press conference on Thursday that the list of eligible groups would be expanded.

Vaccines will be provided at closed "point of dispensing" locations; at this time no one can walk up to a vaccination site without an appointment.

Individuals will be required to bring a personal form of identification such as a driver’s license, and may also be asked to show proof of qualification, such as a work ID, in order to verify eligibility. 

“We are pleased to provide a safe and effective vaccine to frontline healthcare workers, essential employees, and individuals over the age of 65, as well as those with high risk health conditions” said Blue Ridge Health District Director Dr. Denise Bonds. “While the vaccine provides hope on the horizon, it will still be months before the vaccine is widely available publicly. It’s important to remember we are still very much in the trenches of this pandemic and we must continue to adhere to COVID-19 prevention practices.”

Frontline essential workers will be scheduled for vaccines through their employers. Individuals 65 and older and younger people with underlying conditions can fill out a survey at https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfpPkf1nbLplRn9hdqHDLglEl3M6OCCIVpXee86I2vASQUFJA/viewform or https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdGOcfURgZb1oUNKIL3JKsP2JuLZJE5RaWnWwa9S7LHKjPt0A/viewform, respectively.

Individuals who complete one of these forms will receive follow up communication to schedule an appointment as soon as available. This form will be the fastest way to get an appointment but the timeline for an appointment is to be determined.

People in the 65+ and younger people with underlying conditions can also call the health district's COVID-19 Hotline at 434-972-6261 from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday-Friday, starting Jan. 18.   

Virginians who do not fall into these priority phases will be offered the vaccine when it is more widely available. Once it is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine. People will be able to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy, primary care physician, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)/free clinic, local health department or other clinic that is participating as a COVID-19 vaccination program provider.
 
In the meantime, the health district says it is important to remain vigilant in COVID-19 prevention. Continue to protect yourself and others: cover your mouth and nose with a mask, wash your hands often and well, stay at least six feet away from others, avoid gatherings with anyone who is not a member of your household and get a flu shot. 
 
For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccination and testing, visit blueridgehd.org.  

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