Virginia Department of Health Announces Statewide Outbreak of Meningococcal Disease

(RICHMOND, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is announcing a statewide outbreak of meningococcal disease. Twenty-seven cases of meningococcal disease, caused by the bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis type Y, have been reported in eastern, central, and southwest Virginia since June 2022. This development is three times the expected number of cases during this time period. Most cases are residents of eastern Virginia, where a regional outbreak was first announced in September 2022. The most recent notice to the public was shared in March 2023. Five patients have died from complications associated with this disease. The strain associated with this outbreak is known to be circulating more widely in the United States. Risk to Virginia’s population is low.

Meningococcal disease is a rare but serious illness. It takes close or lengthy contact to spread these bacteria. The bacteria spread from person to person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (e.g., kissing, coughing or sneezing directly into the face of others, or sharing cups, water bottles, eating utensils, and cigarettes). In general, and while this outbreak continues, VDH recommends:

  • Don’t share personal items (e.g., vapes, lipsticks, toothbrushes).
  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Do not delay seeking care if you experience symptoms of meningococcal disease.
  • Ensure adolescents and teenagers receive the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) on schedule at 11 or 12 years of age and then a booster dose at 15-16 years of age.
  • Speak to your healthcare provider if you are at increased risk for meningococcal disease to ensure you are up to date on the MenACWY vaccine.

This bacterium can be commonly found in the nose and throat of people without causing disease. Rarely, people can develop serious forms of illness, such as meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or septicemia (a bloodstream infection). Symptoms can first appear flu-like and may quickly become more severe. Meningococcal disease can be treated with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. You should not delay seeking care if you or a loved one experience the following symptoms: fever, chills, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to bright light, and possibly a rash.

VDH has not identified a common risk factor; however, genetic sequencing of available specimens has confirmed that the cases are highly genetically related. Most case-patients are Black or African American adults between 30-60 years of age. Twenty-six case-patients were not vaccinated for Neisseria meningitidis type Y.

The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) can provide protection against Neisseria meningitidis type Y. VDH encourages parents and healthcare providers to make sure that children receive all recommended vaccines. Teenagers should receive their first dose of MenACWY vaccine prior to entering 7th grade, and a booster dose before 12th grade. If you are a part of a group that is at increased risk for meningococcal disease, including people living with HIV, those whose spleen is damaged or removed, people with sickle cell disease, anyone with a rare immune condition called “complement deficiency” or anyone taking a type of drug called a “complement inhibitor,” you should talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you are up to date on the MenACWY vaccine. Contact your local health department if you have questions about your options for accessing the MenACWY vaccine. For additional help contacting your local health department, call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.

The latest information is available on the VDH meningococcal disease outbreak response website. Data are updated monthly (first Tuesday).

The Virginia Department of Health in Collaboration with ESO Launches First-Ever Virginia Stroke Registry – Statewide View of Stroke Data will Improve Care for all People in Virginia

(RICHMOND, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in partnership with ESO, today announced the launch of the first-ever Virginia Stroke Registry. ESO is the leading data and software company serving emergency medical services, fire departments, hospitals, state and federal agencies.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, and stroke-related death rates have risen in recent years. This new Registry will allow stroke centers across Virginia to securely submit stroke data to one central location. The data will be used to identify evidence-based trends and patterns to help stroke patients transition with intent and proper treatment through the entire spectrum of care – from the 911 call to the hospital to rehabilitation to post-acute care. All hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies in the Commonwealth will be able to participate.

“As we observe National Stroke Awareness Month in May, we are also recognizing this milestone in the evolution of health care in the Commonwealth,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “The ability to collect and share stroke data and collaborate with other organizations across the Commonwealth is a major step forward in our ability to improve the care and well-being of all the people of Virginia.”

“Hospitals, EMS agencies and VDH will collaborate through the Virginia Stroke Registry’s Health Data Exchange to better track, assess and improve the quality of care for acute stroke patients across the Commonwealth,” said Stroke Registry Coordinator of the Division of Prevention and Health Promotion Kathryn Funk, AGACNP-BC, MSN, SCRN, CNRN. “The Virginia Stroke Registry will provide the Commonwealth a greater picture of Virginia’s Stroke burden, highlight our successes in stroke care, and allow the VDH to assist hospitals towards better allocation of resources to raise stroke awareness and improve patient outcomes for all Virginians.”

Key Benefits of the Virginia Stroke Registry Include: 

  • Data: Collection of stroke data using a nationally-recognized data set from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program.
  • Collaboration: Partnership across the Commonwealth to identify key trends to improve stroke patient care and response.
  • Evidence-based Decision-making: Keen, data-driven insights to make informed decisions and drive quality improvement across all stages of the continuum of stroke care.
  • Research: Ability to produce and deliver research papers and studies based on aggregate data, state-wide data.

“We’re proud to partner with Virginia on this initiative,” said Dr. Brent Myers, Chief Medical Officer for ESO. “This innovative registry will serve as a best practice for collecting and analyzing critical healthcare data that can have a profound impact on the treatment and care of stroke patients.”

The Virginia Stroke Registry project rollout and training began on May 10. For more information, visit:


(RICHMOND, Va.) – During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers have been challenged beyond measure and continue to provide emergency care with the utmost expertise and professionalism. Last year, EMS providers responded to more than 1.59 million calls for help in Virginia, which represents approximately 4,360 incidents per day.

As proclaimed by Governor Glenn Youngkin, May 15-21 is EMS Week in Virginia. This special week honors EMS responders’ commitment to administering the best prehospital emergency medical care to all people in Virginia. EMS for Children Day, May 18, emphasizes the pediatric patient and their required specialized treatment. This year’s EMS Week theme is “Rising to the Challenge,” and Virginia’s first responders have proven time and again their ability to deliver quality lifesaving emergency care to people in need of help.

“The finest hospital facilities in the world don’t help if you can’t get to them,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Emergency Medical Service providers bring that access to all, through their dedication, courage and selfless service to their communities. We owe them recognition not just this week, but every week.”

“These past few years have demonstrated Virginia’s EMS providers determination and ability to adapt and respond to various emergency situations presented by the ongoing pandemic,” said Gary Brown, director of the Virginia Department of Health Office of EMS. “I am always so impressed and proud of our well-trained and educated EMS providers, and commend their perseverance and commitment to saving lives during these challenging times.”

During EMS Week, Virginia EMS agencies may host community activities, including first aid classes, health and safety fairs, open houses and more. These family-friendly events encourage citizens to meet and greet the first responders in their neighborhoods. Due to the pandemic, EMS Week community activities may be limited. Please check their websites or social media pages for additional information.

In recognition of Virginia’s fallen fire and EMS personnel, the Virginia Fallen Firefighters and EMS Memorial Service honors fire and EMS responders who died in the line of duty and those who risk their lives daily to serve and protect Virginians. The Annual Fallen Firefighters and EMS Memorial Service will be held June 4 at noon at the Richmond International Raceway.

To learn more about the Virginia Department of Health Office of EMS, visit

EMS Week in Virginia, May 15-21, 2022

Virginians rely on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel to respond to the call for help and to provide quality prehospital care during their greatest time of need. National EMS Week is May 15 – 21, 2022. EMS for Children Day, May 18, focuses on the pediatric patient and the specialized care required when providing treatment to them.

EMS Week recognizes the dedication of 37,758 EMS providers and 564 agencies in Virginia. We commend their continued efforts to provide lifesaving care and their commitment to the EMS system. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) providers have been challenged beyond measure and continue to provide emergency care with the utmost expertise and professionalism. Last year, EMS providers responded to more than 1.59 million calls for help in Virginia, which represents approximately 4,360 incidents per day.

Virginia Department of Health To Retire Several COVID-19 Dashboards – Goal is to Streamline Data Presentation, Conform to CDC Data Reporting

(RICHMOND, VA) — On Thursday, May 19, four Virginia Department of Health (VDH) COVID-19 dashboards will be retired from public view, along with two data landing pages.

These retirements will streamline the dashboards available, align better with the data presentation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and allow focus on actionable data. The dashboards and landing pages that will be retired include the following:

The CDC dashboard is considered the standard when it comes to cases by vaccination status, as the definition of vaccination status is rapidly changing nationwide. To stay in alignment with CDC data and keeping in sync with what other states have done, VDH will link to the CDC dashboard when the Cases by Vaccination Status dashboard is retired. Virginia’s vaccination data is expected to be included in the CDC dashboard this summer, and the dataset also will be archived on the Virginia Open Data Portal,

Reasons for the retirement for the Federal Vaccine Doses and Vaccines Received dashboards include the following: vaccines now are widely available; there is reduced interest in these data; and the rate of change is small. The Vaccines Received accompanying dataset will be archived on the Virginia Open Data Portal. There is no accompanying dataset on the Data Portal for the Federal Vaccine Doses dashboard.

The Cases and Deaths by Date Reported dashboard is redundant with the Cases Dashboard and of less interest as date of illness onset and death date are the focus at this time. These changes are in alignment with the changes made in March 2022. There is no accompanying dataset specific to this dashboard on the Virginia Open Data Portal.

VDH also plans to entirely retire the dashboard landing pages for the Level of Community Transmission and Locality dashboards since these were retired in early March 2022. The pages already point to the CDC COVID-19 Community Levels and the VDH Cases dashboards.

2022 County Health Rankings Show How Virginia Continues to Improve – Report ranks localities in Virginia by health outcomes and health factors

(Richmond, Va.) — Falls Church city ranks as the healthiest locality in Virginia and Petersburg city ranks as the least, according to new County Health Rankings data published today by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. The report ranks localities in Virginia by health outcomes and the underlying factors that influence health. The health rankings are available at

This year’s report focuses on the importance of economic security for all communities, especially as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a result, six new measures were introduced. One is childcare cost burden, which can pose a threat to economic security for families.  In Virginia’s counties, it ranges from 14 to 36 percent. According to the report, the typical cost burden of childcare among U.S. counties is about 25 percent of household income, higher than the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ benchmark of seven percent.

Another new health measure included in the report is COVID-19 deaths in 2020.  Virginia’s rate, 56 deaths per 100,000 people, is lower than the national rate of 85 per 100,000. Only 79 percent (103) of Virginia’s localities were included in this measure; 26 percent of them exceeded the national average.

An additional measure that is important as Virginia recovers from the pandemic is the average number of “mentally unhealthy days” people reported in the past 30 days. At 4.2 days, Virginia is slightly better than the national average of 4.5 days. Virginia’s counties ranged from 3.3 to 5.8 days. Mental health outcomes are an important measure because untreated mental health disorders have a serious impact on physical health and are associated with the prevalence, progression, and outcome of some of today’s most pressing chronic diseases.

“The results of the study make it clear that health disparities and inequities occur, not only between regions of the Commonwealth, but also within localities, even the wealthy ones,” said State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “While change in health-influencing factors takes time, the Virginia Department of Health is committed to supporting its local health departments and focusing on improving the health and well-being of all people in Virginia. We will be taking an analytical, evidence-based look at all of these factors, and incorporating them into the next state health improvement plan, Virginia’s Plan for Well-Being, with the intent of improving measurable health outcomes that truly matter to Virginians.”

For more information on the 2022 County Health Rankings, visit For more information on public health resources throughout Virginia, visit

Virginia Earns National Recognition as One of the States Best Prepared for Public Health Emergencies

Two Years into the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Commonwealth is Again Ranked in the Top Tier of States in Trust for America’s Health – Ready or Not 2022 Annual Report on Public Health Emergency Preparedness

RICHMOND, VA – For several years running, Virginia has been recognized among the states best prepared to respond to public health emergencies. That trend continues in the latest report by Trust for America’s Health, Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, which again places Virginia in the top tier of states. The report measures state levels of preparedness to respond to a wide range of health emergencies including infectious outbreaks, natural disasters, and manmade events.

Several recent Trust for America’s Health reports – which also ranked Virginia in the top tier of states in 2021 and 2020 – have been compiled during the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the Commonwealth has also been ranked among the top states in the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHPSI) report that evaluates state readiness to respond to public health emergencies.

“This ongoing and repeated validation of Virginia’s public health emergency preparedness is a testament to the hard work of the thousands of employees of the Virginia Department of Health who day in and day out are focused on protecting the health and promoting the well-being of Virginians,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Our ongoing attention to preparedness means that when we are faced with situations such as this pandemic or severe weather events or calculated attacks, we have systems, guidance, relationships and community partnerships in place to launch a comprehensive response.”

“Virginia’s hospitals are critical partners in the Commonwealth’s emergency preparedness infrastructure and essential providers of life-saving care to patients, including those whose well-being is compromised by public health emergencies,” said Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “The pandemic has been a real-world stress test of our health care delivery system and its level of emergency readiness. While there are always opportunities to improve, it is gratifying to see that Virginia’s commitment to preparedness continues to place us among the top states in the nation.”

Earlier this month, Virginia marked the two-year anniversary (March 7, 2020) of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the Commonwealth. Since then, Virginia’s public health agencies, private health care providers such as hospitals and health systems, and many other stakeholders have risen to meet the challenge of a global pandemic. Virginia has recorded more than 1.65 million COVID-19 cases, resulting in more than 105,600 hospitalizations.

When vaccine doses became available, the Commonwealth mobilized public and private sector resources to rapidly get shots in arms – nearly 7 million Virginians have received at least one vaccine dose (hospitals have administered more than 2 million doses) and more than 72 percent of the eligible Virginia population is fully vaccinated. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), local health districts, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, and other partners have also supported efforts to respond to pandemic surges, outbreaks, and other evolving circumstances through testing, treatment, vaccination, telehealth consultations, and other strategic approaches.

The Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report examines a variety of factors to determine ratings including the level of preparedness to respond to wide-ranging health emergencies and provide public health services such as disease surveillance, seasonal flu vaccination, safe water, and expanded health care services in those situations. The report is also intended to serve as a tool to provide policymakers with data that can be used to support improvements and investments in state emergency readiness.

Unvaccinated individuals remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. This population remains VDH’s top priority. Everyone 5 years or older is eligible to be vaccinated. To find free vaccines near you, visit or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.

About VDH: The mission of the Virginia Department of Health is to protect the health and promote the well-being of all people in Virginia. VDH Central Offices and a network of 35 Local Health Districts serve Virginia communities. Learn more at  Connect with VDH through FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedIn, and Instagram.

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 25 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Its vision is through collaboration with members and stakeholders, to ensure the sustainability of Virginia health care system, transform the delivery of care to promote lower costs and high value across the continuum of care, and to improve health for all Virginians. Connect with VHHA through FacebookTwitterYouTubeLinkedIn, and Instagram.

Reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic

Read this article from Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH, reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic:

​To find a free vaccination opportunity near you, visit the Vaccinate Virginia website at or call the Vaccinate Virginia call center at (877) VAX-IN-VA or (877) 829-4682, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. T-T-Y users may call 7-1-1.

Reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic

Read this article from Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH, reflecting on two years of the COVID-19 pandemic:

​To find a free vaccination opportunity near you, visit the Vaccinate Virginia website at or call the Vaccinate Virginia call center at (877) VAX-IN-VA or (877) 829-4682, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. T-T-Y users may call 7-1-1.

Abbott Voluntarily Recalls Three Brands of Powdered Infant Formula Due to Possible Cronobacter Contamination – Similac, Alimentum and EleCare Infant Formulas Part of Recall

(RICHMOND, VA.) – Abbott, the infant formula manufacturer that is provided through Virginia Women, Infants and Children (WIC), announced a proactive, voluntary recall of some powdered Similac, Alimentum, or EleCare infant formulas manufactured in Sturgis, Michigan. Virginia WIC is working to make all participating families aware of the disruption.

The powdered formula products included in this recall have the expiration date of April 1, 2022 or later and are: 12.6 oz Similac Total Comfort, 12.5 oz Similac for Spit Up, all EleCare Infant and Junior, and all Similac Alimentum. The powdered formula products that might be included in this recall are: 12.5 oz Similac Sensitive and 12.4 oz Similac Advance.

This recall does NOT include Similac Isomil, Similac Neosure, and all concentrate or ready-to-feed formulas.

Do not use Similac, Alimentum or EleCare powdered infant formulas if they meet all three of these conditions:

  1. Check the lot number and expiration date on the bottom of the can to determine if the 12.5 oz Similac Sensitive or 12.4 oz Similac Advance cans are included in this recall/. The first two digits of the included lot numbers are 22 through 37.
  2. The code on the container will contain K8, SH, or Z2.
  3. The expiration or use-by date will be April 1, 2022 or later.

If the formula container does not include all three of these conditions, then it is not affected by the recall and is safe to continue using. To check if the lot number is included in the recall, go to

If a WIC participant’s product is affected by the recall, it should not be used. Participants should return the product to their local grocery store. If they are unable, then they should call their WIC local agency for assistance.

More information about the recall can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Virginia WIC reminds parents and caregivers that infant formula should never be diluted. Never give homemade formula to infants.

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA. Nondiscrimination and complaint information can be found on our website at

WIC is funded by the USDA and is administered by the Virginia Department of Health. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.