COVID-19 Update for Virginia
January 11, 2021
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:
- Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization for Phases 1b and 1c
- Submit your intent today to administer COVID-19 vaccine
- Enroll today to become a vaccination provider in Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps
- FDA Communication: Genetic Variants of SARS-CoV-2 May Lead to False Negative Results with Molecular Tests for Detection of SARS-CoV-2
- FDA Safety Communication: Risk of False Results with the Curative SARS-CoV-2 Test for COVID-19
Updates on COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization for Phases 1b and 1c
Because of the limited supply, COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in a phased approach. Phase 1a, which began on December 15, involved vaccinating healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. On January 6, Governor Northam announced additional details about the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, including the next two phases: Phases 1b and 1c.
In the future, as additional local health districts move to Phase 1b, they will issue press releases and keep their webpages up-to-date with this information.
Virginia’s local health districts will progress through prioritization phases at different times, depending on vaccine supply and demand. These health districts are starting Phase 1b today:
- Prince William
- Lord Fairfax
- Cumberland Plateau
- Mount Rogers
- New River
Phase 1b involves vaccinating people in these groups:
- Frontline essential workers (police, fire, and hazmat; corrections and homeless shelter workers; childcare and K-12 teachers and staff; food and agriculture [including veterinarians and veterinary technicians]; manufacturing; grocery store workers; public transit workers; public and private mail carriers; and officials needed to maintain continuity of government)
- Persons aged 75 years and older
- People living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps
The manner in which people in these groups access vaccination depends on the group and local health district. We hope that with your help, these options will be available:
- People aged 75 years and older could be offered the vaccine through their healthcare provider, local health department, or through arrangements with pharmacies or healthcare systems.
- Frontline essential workers are most likely to receive the vaccine through employer-based vaccination clinics. Others could get it through their local health department or through arrangements with pharmacies, healthcare providers or healthcare systems.
- Persons living in congregate settings will be offered vaccine through the facility’s occupational health program, the local health department, or through arrangements with pharmacies or healthcare systems.
It will take several weeks to months to vaccinate Virginians who fall into Phase 1b. The ability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available. Vaccine supply in the United States is still very limited. Currently the federal government is allocating about 110,000 doses of vaccine to Virginia a week. The amount of vaccine available in the United States will depend on the capabilities of the manufacturers to produce the vaccine safely and is expected to increase gradually over the next months.
Phase 1c involves vaccinating people in these groups:
- Other essential workers (energy, water and wastewater, housing construction, food service, transportation and logistics, institutions of higher education faculty and staff, finance, information technology and communication, media, legal services, public safety [engineers], and other public health workers)
- People aged 65 through 74 years
- People aged 16 through 64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk for severe COVID-19
Submit your intent today to administer COVID-19 vaccine
VDH encourages providers (including pharmacies) interested in administering COVID-19 vaccine to patients or staff to complete the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Intent Form. Completing this form does not obligate participation in this effort. VDH will follow up with next steps after receiving the form. A separate form needs to be completed for each location where the vaccine will be shipped. Vaccinators are required to report all doses administered to the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS). Additional information on provider enrollment, including FAQs and instructions on filling out the provider intent form, can be found here.
Enroll today to become a vaccination provider in Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)
Volunteers are urgently needed for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. MRC vaccine volunteers can serve in their own community when they are available. They have liability protection through the Commonwealth. To learn more about the Virginia MRC, visit the website (www.vamrc.org). To sign up, complete the online application in our Virginia Volunteer Health System (http://www.vamrc.org/vvhs).
Talk to your patients about COVID-19 Vaccination
If you have not already done so, please initiate conversations with your patients now about the importance of vaccination and answer questions or concerns. Recommendations from a health care provider may be one of the most important predictors of vaccination uptake and you play a critical role as a trusted source of information. CDC has communication resources available to support these discussions.
FDA Communication: Genetic Variants of SARS-CoV-2 May Lead to False Negative Results with Molecular Tests for Detection of SARS-CoV-2
On January 8, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a letter to clinical laboratory staff and healthcare providers to communicate that false negative results may occur with any molecular test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 if a mutation occurs in the part of the virus’ genome assessed by that test. FDA has identified three molecular tests with Emergency Use Authorization whose performance may be impacted by genetic variants: Accula SARS-Cov-2 Test, TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit and Linea COVID-19 Assay Kit.
Laboratory staff and clinicians should be aware that genetic variants of SARS-CoV-2 arise regularly and false negative test results can occur; tests that use multiple genetic targets to determine a final result are less likely to be impacted by increased prevalence of genetic variants. FDA recommends that they consider negative results in combination with clinical observations, patient history, and epidemiological information and consider repeat testing with a different test (with different genetic targets) if COVID-19 is still suspected after receiving a negative test result.
FDA Safety Communication: Risk of False Results with the Curative SARS-Cov-2 Test for COVID-19
On January 4, FDA issued a safety communication to alert patients and healthcare providers about the risk of false results, particularly false negative test results, with the Curative SARS-Cov-2 test. FDA recommends that healthcare providers consider retesting patients using a different test if they suspect an inaccurate test result in a test performed recently (within the last two weeks).
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