COVID-19 Update for Virginia

COVID-19 Update for Virginia

December 21, 2020

Dear Colleague:

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Virginia continue to rapidly increase across the Commonwealth, with daily reported cases reaching record-high levels during this pandemic.  Please visit the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website for current epidemiologic data and guidance.  The following updates are included in this document:

  1. Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Updates
  2. COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation
  3. Post Vaccine Considerations for Healthcare Personnel and LTCF Residents
  4. Interim Recommendations for Quarantine Duration for Healthcare Personnel

 Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

 On December 11, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older.  CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued an interim recommendation for use of this vaccine in persons 16 years and older.

On December 18, FDA issued an EUA for Moderna, Inc. COVID-19 Vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older.  ACIP met on December 19 issued an interim recommendation for use of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in persons aged 18 years of age and older.

On December 20, CDC published Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Authorized in the United States.

Although the timeline for FDA’s EUAs and the ACIP recommendations were expedited, the detailed review of all available data was based on the same rigorous standard used for other vaccines.

Updates on COVID-19 Vaccination Phase 1a Vaccine Allocation and Phases 1b and 1c Recommendations

In accordance with ACIP Phase 1a Recommendations, vaccine is being allocated to healthcare personnel (HCP) and long term care facility residents at this time. The Virginia Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (VDMAC) issued guidance on the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccine among health care personnel.  VDH is committed to getting COVID-19 vaccine to providers as quickly as possible and appreciates your patience. Local health departments are working with health care systems and other providers in their communities to reach out to practices and provide information about vaccination opportunities.

In Virginia, the first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine arrived on December 14 and were administered on December 15.  The first doses of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are arriving at sites in Virginia beginning today.

VDH was notified December 18 by the federal government that 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 Pfizer and Moderna. This is down from the previously expected 480,000 doses.

On December 20, ACIP met to discuss COVID-19 vaccine prioritization during Phases 1b and 1c.  VDMAC will review these recommendations and provide guidance for Virginia in the near future.

Post Vaccine Considerations for Healthcare Personnel and LTCF Residents

CDC recently released Post Vaccine Considerations for Healthcare Personnel and Post Vaccine Considerations for Residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs) for the evaluation and management of post-vaccination signs and symptoms.  When making decisions about worker exclusion, placement of LTCF residents, and infection prevention and control precautions, clinicians should assess the person’s COVID-19 vaccination history and timing, the signs and symptoms and likelihood of being related to vaccination, other potential COVID-19 exposures, and any laboratory test results.

VDH Interim Recommendations for Quarantine Duration for Healthcare Personnel

On December 15, VDH posted Interim Recommendations for Quarantine Duration for Healthcare Personnel (HCP).  VDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to recommend a 14-day quarantine period after the last close contact to a person with COVID-19 as the safest option to protect HCP and patients.  For healthcare facilities that may be experiencing staffing shortages because of COVID-19, CDC previously issued guidance that allows healthcare facilities to implement mitigation strategies, including allowing asymptomatic exposed HCP to work before the end of the 14-day quarantine and before all Return to Work Criteria are met. For additional details, see VDH guidance.

As 2020 comes to a close, we hope you have a safe and healthy holiday season and new year.  Please continue to contact your local health department if you have questions about COVID-19.

For updated COVID-19 vaccine information, educational opportunities for healthcare professionals, facts sheets, and information on provider enrollment, please visit the VDH COVID-19 Vaccination website.


M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA

State Health Commissioner