RHHD brings vaccines to the community with mobile vaccine clinics

November 17, 2022 — The Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are partnering with local groups and organizations to bring vaccine clinics to locations throughout the community. RHHD mobile clinics offer the COVID-19 bivalent booster, influenza, and monkeypox vaccinations at no cost to partnering organizations and attendees. Interested groups should fill out RHHD’s mobile clinic request form (rhhd.gov/mobileclinic). 

“One of the greatest barriers to preventive healthcare is accessibility.” Says Dr. Elaine Perry, Director of RHHD. “By bringing vaccinations into the community, we hope to make it easier for people to protect themselves. We can make a real difference in stopping the spread of illness when more people are vaccinated.” 

Current vaccine eligibility details: 

  • Anyone five years of age and older is eligible for the COVID-19 booster after completion of the primary series and two months have passed since the last dose.  
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older is eligible for the influenza (flu) vaccine.  
  • The monkeypox vaccine is recommended for anyone with a higher degree of exposure to monkeypox, or at high-risk for future monkeypox exposure: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/monkeypox/vaccination/  

“We’re excited to welcome walk-ups to our mobile clinics to get vaccinated,” encouraged Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “In the coming months, you can find us at places like community centers, local businesses, family resource centers, churches, or your neighborhood school.”  

Find information about vaccination clinics on the RHHD website (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/richmond-city/walk-up-covid-19-vaccination-events/) or call 804-205-3501. 

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.  

rhhd.gov | henrico.us/health | RCHD Facebook | HCHD Facebook | IG: @richmondcity_hd | Twitter: @richmondcity_hd 

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RHHD PLANNING COVID-19 BOOSTER CLINICS FOR NEWLY ELIGIBLE PEDIATRIC POPULATION

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) updated its standing order to align with FDA and CDC guidance, and children ages 5 years and older are now eligible for a Pfizer bivalent booster and children ages 6 years and older are now eligible for a Moderna bivalent booster. Similar to the recommendations for people ages 12 years and older, children in this age range are eligible for a bivalent booster if it’s been at least two months since their last dose. Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) will begin offering bivalent boosters to children between the ages of 5 to 11 vaccines soon.

“This is great news for parents and children; staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines is the best way to keep community levels low,” says Dr. Elaine Perry, Director of RHHD. “The bivalent booster offers additional protection against Omicron variants, which cause most of the current COVID-19 cases in the United States.”

Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) clinical staff are working diligently to order supplies and adjust clinic schedules to begin offering bivalent boosters to this younger population as soon as possible. Clinic dates and appointments will be added to RHHD’s website once they are available.  In the meantime, RHHD will pause offering monovalent boosters to children in this age range.

“We anticipate that finding an appointment might be a little more difficult during the first couple of weeks when clinics are ramping up and demand is high… this is what we typically see whenever a new population becomes eligible for a vaccine,” explains Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “However, we anticipate more and more opportunities to open up at local health districts, pharmacies, and private providers in the next couple of weeks.”

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccination opportunities, visit rhhd.gov or call 804-205-3501.

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MONKEYPOX VACCINE ELIGIBILITY EXPANDS; RHHD MAKES CHANGES TO MONKEYPOX VACCINATION EFFORT

MONKEYPOX VACCINE ELIGIBILITY EXPANDS; RHHD MAKES CHANGES TO MONKEYPOX VACCINATION EFFORT

Sept 27, 2022- Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) updated monkeypox vaccine eligibility to include anyone living with HIV or AIDS and anyone who has been diagnosed with any sexually transmitted infection (STIs, formerly referred to as STDs) in the past three months. Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) will welcome newly eligible individuals to express interest in a monkeypox vaccine starting on Monday, October 3, 2022. In the meantime, RHHD is preparing by simplifying its vaccine interest form and offering monkeypox vaccine appointments to the remaining eligible individuals on the list.

“We encourage individuals in our communities to review the new eligibility and consider filling out a vaccine interest form next week if you’re newly eligible,” explains Dr. Elaine Perry, Director of RHHD. “Thankfully, we’re seeing the numbers of new cases come down, but getting individuals who are likely to be exposed vaccinated can help ensure our communities are protected.”

Also, due to the slowing demand for monkeypox vaccines in the area and RHHD’s significant progress in vaccinating eligible individuals who have filled out a form, RHHD no longer needs to ask additional questions to assess risk and offer vaccines to people at highest risk first. Because of this, RHHD is shortening its form and removing many questions related to behavior or demographics.

“Sometimes we need to use a prioritization framework to get vaccines to populations at high risk when there’s a high demand and not enough supply or clinical capacity,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director at RHHD. “It’s always our goal to get vaccines to everyone who is eligible and to get to a place where we can make the process as easy as possible… we’re glad our supply and demand have leveled and we can ask fewer questions of our patients.”

Anyone interested in receiving a monkeypox vaccine can review eligibility requirements and fill out a vaccine interest form at rrhd.gov/monkeypoxvax or by calling 804-205-3501.

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

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RHHD announces second round of Health Equity Fund recipients

RHHD ANNOUNCES SECOND ROUND OF HEALTH EQUITY FUND RECIPIENTS

Sept 20, 2022- In October 2021, Richmond City Council voted to establish a first-ever Health Equity Fund (HEF) in the City of Richmond through an initial investment of $5 million from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Today, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are announcing that $332,000 of this fund will be granted to community organizations to address health disparities. This is the second cohort of community-based projects funded through the HEF; an initial investment of $230,000 was made earlier this summer.

“We can reduce the racial health disparities we see in infant mortality, opioid overdoses, mental health, severe COVID-19 and chronic diseases with close collaboration between government, public health, and community organizations,” said Mayor Levar Stoney. “Our investments today in community-based solutions will help ensure we have the best people and tools available to achieve health equity in our great city.”

The organizations newly receiving HEF investments include Daily Planet Health Service, OAR of Richmond, Waymakers, Birth in Color, Healthy Heart Plus, and Urban Baby Beginnings. Combined, these organizations address access to healthcare particularly for those who are underinsured, uninsured, or without housing; supporting those reentering our communities following an incarceration; food access, particularly among Latino and immigrant populations; and access to doula services through workforce development for doulas and payment assistance for patients.

“We are thrilled to continue to support the investments into our community partners,” explains Dr. Elaine Perry, Director of RHHD. “Collaborative partnerships between public health officials and longstanding leaders and changemakers in our city allows us to employ innovative solutions to eradicating health and racial inequities that exist in Richmond and beyond.”

Applications for future HEF investments are currently being reviewed by the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), Richmond and Henrico Public Health Fund (RHPHF), and RHHD.

RHHD will continue to notify the public of future rounds of funding, which will occur through 2024.

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RHHD TO OFFER BIVALENT COVID-19 BOOSTER BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 14TH

RHHD TO OFFER BIVALENT COVID-19 BOOSTER BEGINNING SEPTEMBER 14TH

Sept 2, 2022- With this week’s FDA authorization and CDC recommendation, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts will start offering the new bivalent COVID-19 boosters at our September 14th COVID-19 vaccination clinic. Everyone aged 12 and older is eligible for the new Pfizer booster, and everyone aged 18 and older is eligible for the new Moderna booster. Local pharmacies and primary care physicians across the region may offer booster appointments in the coming days.

The previous COVID-19 vaccines were made to protect against the original variant of COVID-19. Over time, COVID-19 has mutated to create several new variants, some of which are better at escaping immunity from vaccines and previous infections. Bivalent vaccines combine multiple variants of COVID-19 to offer broader protection against these recent variants—specifically, these new boosters will combine components of Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 with the current vaccine.

“Similar to how we update the flu vaccine each year to provide the most protection possible, these tweaks to our existing COVID-19 vaccines will give our communities a safe, effective tool to stay healthy this fall.” said Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of RHHD.

Additionally, as of August 31st, the FDA no longer authorizes the previous COVID-19 boosters (monovalent boosters) for those aged 12 and over. All boosters given moving forward to individuals aged 12 and older will be the new, bivalent formulation. As a result, RHHD will not offer any boosters doses at our September 7 and September 8 clinics as we transition our operations to the new bivalent boosters. People who walk-up or book appointments for boosters at these two clinics will be asked to reschedule for a future date. 

“The new bivalent COVID-19 boosters are yet another important tool in our growing COVID-19 toolbox. We’ve seen a bump in COVID-19 cases each fall as temperatures cool and people start to congregate inside, and these new boosters will provide an additional layer of protection.” said Dr. Elaine Perry, Director of RHHD.

RHHD statement on expansion of monkeypox vax eligibility

August 25, 2022-

STATEMENT FROM DR. ELAINE PERRY ON MONKEYPOX VACCINE ELIGIBILITY EXPANSION

“Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) expanded the eligibility to receive a monkeypox vaccine to align with CDC eligibility criteria. We encourage people who live in our community who have recently become eligible to fill out our vaccine interest form if they would like to receive a vaccine.

I do want to highlight that gay and bisexual men, transwomen, and nonbinary people assigned male at birth who have sex with other people assigned male at birth continue to be most impacted by monkeypox. I say this not to stigmatize, but rather to acknowledge who has carried the most burden throughout this recent monkeypox spread and to emphasize our promise to serve those most impacted with resources.

RHHD is currently working through our prioritization framework to incorporate the newly eligible populations while still getting vaccines to people at highest risk of getting monkeypox or having a severe illness from monkeypox. During this process of adjusting our prioritization and because RHHD continues to see high demand for the monkeypox vaccine, we will continue working through our existing list of people at highest risk first.

We encourage all Richmond and Henrico residents to learn more about monkeypox and its symptoms, discuss monkeypox risk with intimate or sexual partners, seek medical care if you think you may have developed symptoms, and fill out our interest form if you’d like to receive the vaccine and meet eligibility requirements.”

About Richmond and Henrico Health Districts: RHHD are sister public health agencies serving Richmond’s and Henrico’s communities. Our mission is to expose and address the root causes of health disparities, protect health by preventing the spread of disease, and build health equity by partnering with communities and working collaboratively across sectors.

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RHHD LAUNCHES INTEREST FORM FOR MONKEYPOX VACCINES; STARTS VACCINATING ELIGIBLE POPULATIONS

July 20. 2022- After receiving a shipment of about 160 JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccines on July 19, 2022, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) is starting today to vaccinate individuals who may be at higher risk of monkeypox exposure who have not had contact with a known positive case. RHHD is also launching an interest form for individuals in the Richmond and Henrico area to express interest in receiving a monkeypox vaccine. Individuals can fill out the interest form by visiting rhhd.gov/monkeypoxvax or by calling 804-205-3501.

Monkeypox is a disease caused by the monkeypox virus that causes a rash or lesions and is spread through close person to person contact. As of May 2022, the CDC has reported the disease in several countries that have not historically seen monkeypox cases. Although most, but not all, cases of monkeypox associated with the current 2022 outbreak have been identified in gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM), anyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, can get monkeypox if they have close contact with someone infected with the virus. While it’s important to identify which communities are most impacted by a disease for prevention efforts, it is never acceptable to use transmission of a disease to stigmatize or hold biases against a community.

Prior to today, RHHD only offered vaccines as post-exposure prophylaxis to high- and some intermediate-risk close contacts of known monkeypox cases. Vaccines are now beginning to be offered to adults with certain risk factors that increase their likelihood of becoming exposed to monkeypox. RHHD is starting the vaccination process with a few appointments today for high-risk individuals identified through community outreach. Filling out the interest form will add an individual to a list to potentially receive a monkeypox vaccine in the future depending on risk factors and the available supply. Because vaccination supply remains limited, monkeypox vaccination is not guaranteed by filling out the interest form. Examples of individuals who are eligible to get vaccinated include:

● Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men and have had multiple or
anonymous sexual partners;
● Transgender women and nonbinary persons assigned male at birth who have sex with
men and have had multiple or anonymous sexual partners;
● Sex workers;
● Staff at establishments where sexual activity occurs; and
● People who attend sex-on-premises venues.

“We know that there are many folks in the community who are ready to get vaccinated against monkeypox and we’re eager to vaccinate them,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director of RHHD. “Thankfully, there were vaccines already developed… we are prioritizing individuals with the highest risk while supply is low, but are hopeful that we’ll continue to get an increasing supply in the coming weeks and months.”

For more information on monkeypox and prevention, visit rhhd.gov/monkeypox or call 804-205-3501.

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VIRGINIA REPORTS ADDITIONAL PRESUMED CASE OF MONKEYPOX

July 14 – Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced a presumed case of monkeypox in a Virginia resident in the Central region of Virginia, bringing the total number of cases in Virginia to 40. Testing was conducted at the Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services.

Multiple countries, including the United States, are currently experiencing a monkeypox outbreak. Although anyone of any gender or sexuality can be infected with monkeypox, most cases have occurred in persons who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men (MSM). Three deaths have been reported globally in this outbreak thus far, but none in the U.S or Virginia. As of July 13, CDC had reported 11,068 cases of monkeypox identified in 65 countries; 1,053 cases were reported in the United States.

This case is the first reported from the Central Region; the case is an adult male resident who recently traveled out of state. The patient is currently isolating. The local health district is identifying close contacts of the case, enrolling them in monitoring, and offering vaccines (if indicated). To protect patient privacy, no further information will be provided.

Monkeypox is a potentially serious viral illness, characterized by a specific type of rash. Rash lesions can begin on the genitals, perianal region, or oral cavity and might be the first or only sign of illness. Co-infection with sexually transmitted infections have been reported. Some patients also have fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, and/or swelling of the lymph nodes before developing a rash. Symptoms generally appear six to 14 days after exposure and, for most people, clear up on their own without treatment within two to four weeks. Person-to-person spread occurs with close contact or with direct contact with body fluids or contact with contaminated materials such as clothing or linens.

Although there is no treatment approved specifically for monkeypox in the U.S., some treatment options may be beneficial. As with many viral illnesses, treatment mainly involves supportive care and relief of symptoms. For patients who have severe illness or are at high risk of developing severe illness, treatments can be accessed through the federal government with VDH coordination. Two vaccines are also available through the federal government as postexposure prophylaxis for people who had close contact with a person with monkeypox and are at highest risk of exposure.

If you have symptoms consistent with monkeypox, seek medical care from your healthcare provider immediately, especially if you are in one of the following groups:

  • Those who have had contact with someone who had a rash that looks like monkeypox or someone who was diagnosed with monkeypox
  • Those who have had skin-to-skin contact with someone in a social network experiencing monkeypox activity, this includes men who have sex with men
  • Those who traveled to places or attended events where monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the month before symptoms appeared
  • Those who have had contact with household items, such as towels, bedding or clothing, used by a person with suspected or known orthopox or monkeypox virus infection
  • Those who have had contact with a dead or live wild animal or exotic pet from Africa or used a product derived from such animals (e.g., game meat, creams, lotions, powders, etc.)

If you need to seek care, call your healthcare provider first. Let them know you are concerned about possible monkeypox infection so they can take precautions to ensure that others are not exposed. Healthcare providers are reminded to report any suspected cases of monkeypox to their local health department as soon as possible, even if monkeypox testing is conducted at a commercial laboratory. They should also implement appropriate infection prevention precautions.

The federal government is expanding monkeypox vaccination access for individuals at risk and working to make testing more convenient for healthcare providers and patients across the country. VDH is actively working with our federal partners to make these services more accessible for Virginians.

Monkeypox cases have been identified in all regions of the state; additional cases will be posted on the VDH website. For more information, visit the VDH websiteCDC website, and the World Health Organization website.

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COVID-19 VACCINES FOR BABIES AND CHILDREN NOW AVAILABLE

July 1, 2022 — All Virginians from the age of six months and older are eligible now to get a free COVID-19 vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), following the unanimous recommendations on June 18 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna pediatric vaccines for the youngest of children.

The CDC’s independent panel of experts, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 4 years and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months through 5 years. The CDC director gave her final approval to the recommendation later that afternoon.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a three-dose series with the first two doses administered 3 weeks apart and a third dose at least two months after the second dose. The Moderna vaccine is a two-dose series administered 4 weeks apart.

VDH would like to stress to parents that providers can choose which vaccine to offer to their patients. Some providers may choose to offer both vaccines, while others may decide only to offer one. Parents should follow up with their pediatrician or other healthcare provider for specific information about the vaccines they’ll be offering.

Because VDH has been planning for the expansion of vaccine eligibility and availability for several months, families will have many options for where to get their children a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination sites may include:

  • Pediatric offices
  • Family practice offices
  • Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)
  • Retail pharmacies for children ages 3 years and older
  • Local Health Departments

The following is a statement from Virginia’s State Vaccination Coordinator and Director of the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Immunization Christy Gray, MPH:

“With the CDC’s endorsement of the recommendation of its independent panel of advisers that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be safely administered to children 4 years of age and younger down to 6 months of age and the Moderna vaccine to children 5 years of age down to 6 months, one of the final fronts in the battle against COVID-19 has opened up.

“We at VDH are pleased to begin offering this vaccine to parents who want to protect their youngest children from severe illness and hospitalization due to this virus. There are a variety of venues open to Virginia parents to vaccinate their children, including community vaccination events set up by local health departments, pharmacies and, of course, pediatrician’s offices. We urge parents to consult with their child’s healthcare provider about vaccination.

“VDH is excited that parents have this opportunity and are empowered to protect their youngest children against this virus.”

RHHD ONE WEEK INTO ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS FOR THE HEALTH EQUITY FUND

June 24, 2022- One week after the form to nominate community based projects to receive support from the Health Equity Fund (HEF) launched, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) has received fifty-one nominations. RHHD continues to encourage community members and organizations to nominate grassroots projects aimed at reducing health disparities in Richmond’s communities at rhhd.gov/hef through July 28, 2022.

In October 2021, Richmond City Council voted to establish a first-ever Health Equity Fund (HEF) in the City of Richmond through an initial investment of $5 million from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Earlier this month, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) announced that $230,000 in initial investments were granted to community organizations to address health disparities.

The short nomination form alerts RHHD to innovative, community-based projects aimed at reducing health disparities. After a project is nominated, RHHD reaches out to the main point of contact to gather more information about the project. The projects will then be reviewed by RHHD’s community advisory committee (CAC), which is a group of people who have relevant professional or personal experiences with health disparities. Selected projects then work with RHHD to develop work and funding plans.

Nominees should have capacity to engage in new projects or expand existing work to better promote health equity and racial justice and address health disparities in Richmond. The disparity areas of focus defined by the City Administration and City Council for the HEF include: COVID-19, mental health, substance use and recovery, maternal child health, food access and security, access to care and health education, and underlying conditions.

“It’s really exciting for us to see this process come to life and to see nominations roll in,” says Hannah Quigley, Food Access Specialist. “We’ve tried to be intentional in creating a simple funding process that centers racial equity and community voices in every step of the process… we’ve seen some great projects get nominated and are continuing to invite community members to help us learn about all the good work happening in our communities.”

RHHD will continue to notify the public of future rounds of nominations and funding, which will occur through 2024.

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