Special Open Enrollment for Health Insurance – Starting February 15 – May 15

Do you need health insurance?
Starting February 15 through May 15, individuals and families can enroll in insurance coverage for 2021, through a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).  No proof of qualifying event is required.    Visit https://www.healthcare.gov.
For in-person assistance with enrollment visit: https://coverva.org/assistance/
Consumer Information can be found at the Virginia State Corporation Commission Health Benefit Exchange website: https://www.scc.virginia.gov/pages/Details-for-Consumers

Additional Pharmacy Networks Added to Federal Partnership to Provide No-Cost COVID-19 Vaccines

(Richmond, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that additional pharmacy networks are beginning to administer COVID-19 vaccines to those age 65 and older as part of a federal partnership that will bring an additional 52,000 vaccines into Virginia this week.

In addition to CVS Pharmacy Inc., which began receiving approximately 26,000 vaccine doses last week through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, the newly added pharmacies include Walgreens, Walmart Inc., The Kroger Co., Albertsons Companies Inc. (Safeway), Retail Business Services LLC (Food Lion, Giant Food), Topco Associates LLC (Food City), and CPESN LLC, a network of multiple independent community pharmacies. These pharmacy networks will share the additional 26,000 doses. Similar doses are expected in the following weeks.

The Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination is a public-private partnership in which the pharmacy companies receive vaccines directly from the federal government to vaccinate priority groups at no cost. Vaccinations are by appointment only.

VDH is working with eligible pharmacies to schedule appointments using Virginia’s centralized pre-registration system, as possible. Beginning this week, the Vaccinate Virginia call center is making calls to individuals on the pre-registration list to schedule appointments for Walmart and Giant vaccination events, while other pharmacies have agreed to use pre-registered individuals to schedule their own appointments.

The vaccines will be distributed to approximately 140 locations across Virginia. VDH will work with these pharmacies to determine which locations will receive vaccinations each week in an effort to focus on high-risk and vulnerable communities. While most will administer vaccinations in their stores, Walmart will hold off-site mass clinics in rotating areas of the state.

The 52,000 doses from the federal partnership are in addition to the approximately 160,000 Virginia received this week to be distributed through local health departments and other providers.

To pre-register, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (TTY users dial 7-1-1). To register for an appointment at a CVS pharmacy, visit https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.


Redes de farmacias adicionales agregadas a la asociación federal para proporcionar vacunas contra COVID-19 sin costo

(Richmond, Va.) – El Departamento de Salud de Virginia (VDH) anunció hoy que redes de farmacias adicionales están comenzando a administrar vacunas contra COVID-19 a las personas de 65 años o más como parte de una asociación federal que traerá esta semana 52,000 vacunas adicionales a Virginia.

Además de CVS Pharmacy Inc., que comenzó a recibir aproximadamente 26,000 dosis de vacunas la semana pasada a través del Programa Federal de Farmacias Minoristas para la Vacunación contra COVID-19, las farmacias recientemente agregadas incluyen Walgreens, Walmart Inc., The Kroger Co., Albertsons Companies Inc. (Safeway), Retail Business Services LLC (Food Lion, Giant Food), Topco Associates LLC (Food City) y CPESN LLC, una red de múltiples farmacias comunitarias independientes. Estas redes de farmacias compartirán las 26,000 dosis adicionales. Se espera un número de dosis similares en las próximas semanas.

El Programa Federal de Farmacias Minoristas para la Vacunación contra COVID-19 es una asociación pública-privada en la que las empresas farmacéuticas reciben vacunas directamente del gobierno federal para vacunar a grupos prioritarios sin costo alguno. Las vacunas se administran solo con previa cita.

VDH está trabajando con las farmacias elegibles para programar citas utilizando el sistema de preinscripción centralizado de Virginia, como sea posible. A partir de esta semana, el centro de llamadas Vaccinate Virginia está haciendo llamadas a las personas en la lista de preinscripción para programar citas para eventos de vacunación de Walmart y Giant, mientras que otras farmacias han acordado utilizar personas preinscritas para programar sus propias citas.

Las vacunas se distribuirán en aproximadamente 140 ubicaciones en todo Virginia. VDH trabajará con estas farmacias para determinar cuáles ubicaciones recibirán las vacunas cada semana en un esfuerzo por centrarse en las comunidades vulnerables y de alto riesgo. Si bien la mayoría administrará las vacunas en sus tiendas, Walmart llevará a cabo clínicas masivas fuera del sitio en zonas rotativas en el estado.

Las 52,000 dosis de la asociación federal se suman a las aproximadamente 160,000 dosis que Virginia recibió esta semana para ser distribuidas a través de los departamentos de salud locales y otros proveedores.

Para preinscribirse, visite vaccinate.virginia.gov o llame al 877-VAX-IN-VA (los usuarios de TTY deben marcar 7-1-1). Para inscribirse para una cita en una farmacia CVS, visite https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.


VDH Announces Walgreens Adding More Stores to Provide Testing at No Cost – COVID-19 tests now offered at 26 locations across Virginia

(Richmond, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced today that Walgreens has added seven additional stores to its partnership with VDH to provide Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing at selected Walgreens locations across the Commonwealth. This arrangement increases the number of Walgreens locations that will operate drive-thru COVID-19 testing at no cost to the public from 19 to 26 stores.

“While recent focus of VDH has been on vaccinations, testing remains a critical response component in containing existing disease in our communities” says VDH Chief Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Parham Jaberi.  “This expanded partnership increases access to testing for communities that lack adequate testing services including communities with a high rate of vulnerable populations.”

VDH encourages the use of these tests for individuals who are symptomatic, those who have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, and anyone at high risk of  complications, essential employees such as educators, childcare providers and healthcare providers.

Walgreens pharmacy teams will oversee the patient’s self-administration of a COVID-19 test, where test results will be processed at the pharmacy and provided to patients within 24 hours.

COVID-19 testing will be available by appointment to adults and children age 3 and older who meet screening criteria to receive a test. Appointments can be made by following the steps at Walgreens.com/COVID19Testing

The seven additional Walgreens COVID-19 testing locations are listed below:

  • Bealeton: 11037 Marsh Rd
  • Clintwood: 5451 Dickenson Hwy
  • Exmore: 4053 Lankford Hwy
  • Gate City: 119 east Jackson St
  • Lynchburg: 21400 Timberlake Rd
  • Marion: 1102 N Main St
  • Yorktown: 6608 George Washington Memorial Hwy

For a list of additional testing options, please visit the VDH website at:https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/.

VDH recommends two tools to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Download the free COVIDWISE app on your smartphone and it will anonymously notify you if you have been exposed to COVID-19. The app does not collect, store, track or use location data. VDH provides a free online risk-assessment tool called COVIDCheck to check symptoms and connect users with appropriate health care resources.

First Case of B.1.351 COVID-19 Variant Identified in Southwest Virginia

(RICHMOND, Va.) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced that the first case of the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.351 has been identified in a sample from an adult resident of Southwest Virginia who recently returned to Virginia after international travel. All contacts of the case have been identified and appropriately managed. The B.1.351 variant, which first emerged in South Africa in late 2020, is associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with this variant cause more severe disease. To date, the B.1.351 variant has been identified in nine other U.S. states.

The Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) confirmed the case using next-generation sequencing that provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition to this case of the B.1.351 variant, two other cases of the B.1.351 variant and 12 cases of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant have now been identified in Virginia, as of Thursday, Feb. 18 at 5 p.m. With the combined state and national surveillance efforts, it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.

Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as disease spreads. As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures. We are in a race to stop the spread of these new variants. The more people that become infected, the greater that chance the virus will mutate and a variant will arise that could undermine the current vaccination efforts. Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

VDH encourages all Virginians to use COVIDWISE to send and receive anonymous exposure notifications based on positive COVID-19 test results. As of February 17, 2021, approximately 1.83 million Virginians have joined the fight against COVID-19 using their mobile devices. This includes 1,003,619 downloads of COVIDWISE – the nation’s first app using the Google/Apple framework and 2nd most downloaded exposure notifications app in the U.S. An estimated 827,885 additional iPhone users have also turned on COVIDWISE Express, which is a secondary exposure notifications option specifically for iPhone users.

DCLS began sequencing positive COVID-19 samples in March 2020, becoming one of the first public health labs in the nation to use this technology to examine the genetic makeup of the virus and track how it is changing and being transmitted in the Commonwealth. DCLS is working with other labs in Virginia to solicit additional positive samples to sequence so public health officials can get a representation of variants circulating throughout Virginia.

For more information about COVID-19 variants, visit the VDH COVID-19 Testing website and the CDC New COVID-19 Variants website. For more information on DCLS and its use of next-generation sequencing, visit dgs.virginia.gov/dcls.

Winter Weather in United States, Virginia Impacts Vaccine Delivery – Second major winter storm to hit Commonwealth on Thursday into Friday

(RICHMOND, Va.) – Virginia is seeing delays in this week’s vaccine shipments because of severe winter weather in the Mid-Atlantic region and in the country.

Storms are bringing cold weather and precipitation to the region.  The Commonwealth will likely see a delay in the delivery of approximately 106,800 doses, due to distribution channels in the Midwest and elsewhere that are currently shut down.

Due to weather conditions in Virginia, multiple vaccination events scheduled for the next few days have already been postponed. If vaccination events are postponed due to weather or shipment delays, providers will reschedule these events and reach out to individuals with directions about updated appointments.

When the severe weather ends, VDH expects shipments to resume as normal.

The delays affect both the vaccine itself and ancillary supplies that come with each order.  The vaccine and ancillary supplies are produced in multiple locations throughout the country using several hub connections to deliver vaccines directly to providers. Two percent of Virginia’s providers are seeing delayed ancillary supply kits.

There also could be additional delays for orders VDH places this week due to severe weather that may cause additional distribution issues. Even if the roads are clear in Virginia, the fulfillment of orders and the movement of these vaccine and ancillary supplies may be delayed in other parts of the country.

VDH is distributing guidance to providers on how to determine the status of their vaccine and ancillary supply orders. VDH also is working closely with federal partners to determine the status of vaccine and ancillary kit orders and next steps to mitigate the delay and impact to Virginians.

Vaccinate Virginia Town Hall, Feb. 10 at 7PM

Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall: You Ask. The Experts Answer. Community and medical leaders answer your questions about the COVID-19 vaccine on Wed., February 10 at 7 p.m. Learn more about the town hall: https://www.wric.com/vaccinate-virginia/.

Send your questions prior to the show to news@wric.com or post them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #VaccinateVirginia.

This event will be live broadcast and streaming at:

  • WRIC8 / wric.com
  • WAVY10 / wavy.com
  • WDCW / dcw50.com
  • FOX43 / wavy.com
  • WFXR / wfxrtv.com
  • WDVM / localdvm.com
  • News Channel 11 / wjhl.com

Town Hall Panelists Include:

    Virginia State Health Commissioner, VDH
    Latino Advisory Board, Health Committee Chair
    State Vaccine Coordinator, VDH
    Chair, Virginia African American Advisory Board
    White House COVID-19 Response Team, Senior Policy Advisor for COVID-19 Equity

Learn more about Virginia’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/.



Virginia Begins Receiving Moderna Vaccine This Week

(Richmond, Va.) — The newest approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19 is being delivered to health districts and health care facilities across the Commonwealth of Virginia this week. Both the previously approved Pfizer vaccine and Moderna vaccines are being distributed to 96 sites this week at geographically diverse locations.

In anticipation of the Moderna vaccine’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Virginia had placed an order for about 140,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine last week, and it is expected to all be delivered by tomorrow, December 23.  Additionally, Virginia was allocated about 50,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine this week. 

Based on planning estimates provided by Operation Warp Speed, Virginia is planning for a weekly allocation of a total of 100,000 doses of vaccine (about 50,000 doses of each type of vaccine) for the next few weeks. The actual amount of vaccine received in Virginia is a moving target and is dependent on when and how quickly vaccination doses are manufactured.

Health districts have been working with healthcare systems to  plan for how to provide the vaccine to those in allocation group 1a, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and VDH. In addition to healthcare personnel, Phase 1a  includes long-term care facility (LTCF) residents and staff. Most LTCFs in Virginia signed up for the federal LTCF Pharmacy Partnership Program and will be receiving their vaccinations onsite, at their LTCF, from CVS and Walgreens vaccination teams. The pharmacies are expected to begin vaccinating at LTCFs beginning the week of December 28.

“Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic. With Pfizer-BioNTech and now Moderna vaccines available, more Virginians are able to get vaccinated,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA. “The interest we are seeing from community members on when they can get vaccinated indicates people want this protection. We are working hard to get vaccines to people as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please continue to wear a face mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands frequently.”

Currently, vaccine distribution is limited to those in priority group 1a but will be expanded as supplies and resources to administer the vaccine increase. Vaccines will be made available to the various populations identified in the phased distribution plans established by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and VDH. 

Although some are being vaccinated, all are encouraged to continue to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Continue to wear cloth face-coverings or masks, stay at least six feet away from others, wash your hands well and often, and avoid gatherings with anyone who is not a member of your household. 

For more information about VDH’s COVID-19 Vaccination Response Plan, visit: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine. Information is also available from the CDC

COVID-19 Outbreaks by Selected Exposure Settings – Data Dashboard Includes Information on a Variety of Settings 

Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) launched a COVID-19 outbreak dashboard in response to the requirements of HB5048 of the 2020 Virginia General Assembly Special Session. The dashboard includes outbreaks that occurred in medical care facilities, residential or day programs licensed by VDH, Department of Social Services (DSS) or Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), summer camps, and kindergarten (K)-12th grade schools.  Currently, outbreaks in long-term care facilities and K-12 schools are displayed in separate public dashboards by VDH. As of December 18, 2020, they will be incorporated into this dashboard.

  • Outbreaks on this dashboard represent specific, identifiable outbreak events that were investigated by local health departments in collaboration with the facilities listed.
  • Outbreaks are listed by locality, facility type and by public health investigation status.
  • COVID-19 cases and deaths linked to one of these facility outbreaks will be listed.
  • Outbreaks are reported for residential or day programs, K-12 schools or summer camps that have at least 30 enrolled students or residents and staff.

Some facilities may have more than one COVID-19 outbreak occurring at the same time in different settings or may have multiple COVID-19 outbreaks over the course of the pandemic. Due to confidentiality concerns, this dashboard reports outbreaks at the facility level, and not in a particular unit or subsection.

  • To help protect anonymity of cases, if fewer than five cases or between zero and five deaths are associated with a facility outbreak, the counts will be represented by an asterisk (*).
  • The dashboard is updated once a week to accommodate for ongoing data collection, quality assurance, and communications. There are inherent delays in public reporting of real-time COVID-19 data.

To find out more about an outbreak or the measures in place to protect the population affected, please contact the facility listed. The dashboard will be available on the VDH website at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-data-insights/.

Virginia Now Planning for 370,650 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine By December 2020

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) was informed late yesterday by Operation Warp Speed that, like other states, Virginia’s estimated allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses will be less than initially planned for the next few weeks. Virginia is now planning to receive 370,650 doses of vaccine in December 2020 from two manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna. This is down from the previously expected 480,000 doses.

Virginia’s health care personnel (HCP) and long-term care facility (LTCF) residents remain top priority groups.  Eighteen Virginia hospitals received initial shipments of the Pfizer vaccine this week, and they began dispersing a total of 72,125 doses to frontline healthcare workers. Virginia has already placed an order for 146,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which if approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), will begin arriving the week of December 21.

CDC and Operation Warp Speed provide regular estimates to states for vaccine distribution planning; these estimates remain subject to change. VDH is working closely with the CDC to ensure a smooth and equitable vaccine deployment.