COVID-19 Update for Virginia
December 30, 2020
Virginia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve. Please visit the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) website for current clinical guidance and epidemiologic data. The following updates are included here:
- VDH Statement on COVID-19 Vaccine and Pregnancy
- VDH COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard and Provider Resources
- New “U. K. Variant” of COVID-19 Virus Detected in the United States
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and VDH recommend that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant or lactating individuals, or from individuals who intend to get pregnant and who meet criteria for vaccination based on ACIP-recommended priority groups. Although safety data on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy are not currently available, there are no data to indicate that the vaccines should be contraindicated, and no safety signals were generated from developmental and reproductive toxicology studies for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. People considering a COVID-19 vaccine should have access to available information about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, including information about data that are not available. A conversation between the patient and clinical team may assist with decisions regarding the use of vaccines approved under Emergency Use Authorization for the prevention of COVID-19 by pregnant patients.
VDH updated its COVID-19 Data dashboard to add vaccine information: Vaccine Summary and Vaccine Demographics. The data on administered vaccines come from the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS). Implemented in 2006, VIIS is a confidential, secure immunization registry for people of all ages.
Virginia providers participating in the federal COVID-19 vaccination program are required to enter COVID-19 immunizations into VIIS. This information is important for tracking when second doses are due and for providing proof of vaccination. In addition to the required fields (name and date of birth), please report race, ethnicity, sex, and patient’s county/zip code of residence to help us understand where there are gaps in immunization coverage so we can follow up with targeted education. Additional fields also help to distinguish people with the same name.
VDH COVID-19 vaccination web resources for healthcare professionals include information on how to enroll as a COVID-19 vaccine provider, guidance documents, and training opportunities.
Effective December 28, the United States is requiring air passengers arriving from the U. K. to test negative, via PCR or antigen test, no more than 72 hours before departure from the U. K. to the United States.
Since November, the U. K. has reported a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases in London and southeast England, which has been linked to a new variant strain of SARS-CoV-2 that contains a series of mutations (SARS-CoV-2 VOC 202012/01). The variant strain is potentially more rapidly transmissible than other circulating strains of SARS-CoV-2. Research is ongoing; but at this time, there is no confirmed evidence of its ability to cause more severe illness, evade vaccine-induced immunity, or be undetectable on currently available diagnostic tests.
The VOC 202012/01 variant was first identified in the United States on December 29 by the Colorado State Laboratory. Additional cases likely will be identified in the coming days through ongoing sequencing efforts. CDC is actively tracking emerging variants of SARS-CoV-2 and launched a surveillance program in November to increase the breadth of viruses undergoing characterization. VDH continues to work with laboratory partners and the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services to sequence a subset of positive samples to screen for genetic variations in currently circulating SARS-CoV-2 viruses.
Please ask patients suspected of having COVID-19 about recent travel to and from the U. K. If you diagnose COVID-19 by PCR or antigen test in a person who traveled to the U. K. in the 14 days before symptom onset (or specimen collection, if asymptomatic), please contact your local health department.
COVIDWISE is Virginia’s free COVID-19 exposure notification application. COVIDWISE is now participating with the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ (APHL) National Key Server allowing COVIDWISE interoperability with Washington, D.C., and 16 other states’ apps that also use the server. This allows COVIDWISE to communicate with other state notification apps to share anonymous bits of information or “exposure notification keys” using a national server that will enable users to find out when they may have been exposed by users from other states. Please encourage your patients to download and enable the COVIDWISE app.
Thank you for all your continued efforts to protect Virginians from COVID-19. Please continue to contact your local health department if you have questions about COVID-19.
M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA
State Health Commissioner