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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RHHD EXPANDS COVID-19 CONTACT CENTER TO INCLUDE OTHER PUBLIC HEALTH TOPICS

June 16th, 2022- In 2020, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) launched the COVID-19 call center and hotline number 804-205-3501 to be a resource to individuals requesting information about COVID-19. The newly named RHHD contact center is expanding the topics staff are trained on to expand its services beyond COVID-19. 

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the contact center has been a valuable resource to community members and has provided an array of information as it has become available. For example, the contact center provided information on mitigation and prevention guidance, registered individuals for COVID-19 vaccination appointments, connected individuals to testing opportunities, and so much more.

“The contact center has been particularly helpful for our community members who prefer to speak with a person rather than to navigate a website,” explains Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager at RHHD. “It also is one of several ways we get to connect with community members one on one, which is so important to us to build trust and rapport with our communities while delivering information with compassion.” 

As of today, the contact center is expanding beyond answering COVID-19 questions to include other public health topics. Specifically, contact center staff have been trained on assisting immigrants and refugees on staying up to date on immunizations and getting screened for communicable diseases. Also, contact center staff have been trained to answer general questions on Monkeypox and how to connect individuals to epidemiological or clinical resources if needed.

“I’ve always been proud of our staff’s ability to serve our communities in creative and innovative ways,” explains Dr. Melissa Viray. “RHHD experienced so much growth throughout the pandemic and created new systems and programming to better serve our communities. We’ve taken a step back to see which of those services make sense to start incorporating into our everyday work and the contact center was an obvious choice.” 

Individuals with questions on anything related to COVID-19, Monkeypox, or refugee/immigrant health services are welcome to call 804-205-3501.

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RHHD ANNOUNCES INITIAL RECIPIENTS OF HEALTH EQUITY FUND

June 9, 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. Today, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are announcing that a total of $230,000 will be granted to community organizations to address health disparities. RHHD are also announcing the nomination process to fund additional organizations and community leaders will start next week on June 16th, 2022.

“Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our residents, and I’m proud the City of Richmond was able to dedicate $5 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to this innovative public health initiative,” says Mayor Levar Stoney. “I applaud RHHD for recognizing the positive impact grassroots work can have on community resilience to public health crises like COVID-19 or the opioid epidemic, which disproportionately impact our low-income residents and communities of color.”

The three organizations receiving initial rounds of investment include Crossover Healthcare Ministry, Nolef Turns, and Richmond and Behavioral Health Authority (RBHA). These organizations have worked closely in communities prior to and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic addressing access to healthcare, support for those returning from incarceration to include substance use recovery, and mental and behavioral healthcare, respectively.

Specifically, the funding will be allocated as follows:

  • $50,000 to Crossover Healthcare Ministry to provide additional bilingual medical assistance and increase capacity

  • $90,000 to Nolef Turns to provide crisis and transitional shelter assistance to Richmond residents returning from incarceration with an increased likelihood of engaging in substance use

  • $90,000 to Richmond Behavioral Health Authority to provide clinical mental health services in two to three of RHHD’s satellite Resource Center clinics located in public housing and lower income communities

“Crossover Healthcare Ministry, Nolef Turns, and Richmond Behavioral Authority have offered a tremendous amount of services to our communities,” explains Dr. Cynthia Newbille. “Investments into these dedicated organizations are a direct investment into the wellbeing of our communities.”

“We are both excited to provide funding assistance to these specific programs with these organizational partners and more broadly for the potential the HEF holds to fund future projects,” explains Ruth Morrison, Policy Director at RHHD. “For future investments of the HEF, we know communities know best what they need and what initiatives and organizations they trust so we encourage folks to nominate organizations or leaders they’re familiar with and for those folks to self-nominate themselves… we’re looking forward to the process of working with the community advisory committee to address pressing public health issues in our communities.”

HEF investments will continue to be announced and RHHD will soon accept nominations for nonprofits, community organizations, and individual community leaders to receive new funding. 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. Nominations will be reviewed by RHHD’s community advisory committee. The nomination process will open on June 16, 2022 and close on July 14, 2022. For more information, visit rhhd.gov/hef.

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

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RHHD CELEBRATES RESOURCE CENTERS’ THIRTEEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY

June 1, 2022- In 2009, Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) opened its Resource Center in Fairfield Court. Today, RHHD celebrates its eight Resource Centers located in all of Richmond’s public housing communities, Broad Rock Community Center, and Southwood Apartments.

Resource Centers are satellite health clinics with a variety of clinical services including cancer screenings, chronic disease screening and management, STI testing and treatment, and more. The Resource Centers are staffed with Community Health Workers (CHWs), who are peer health educators, counselors, and advocates.

“Over the past thirteen years, the Resource Centers have developed strong roots in their communities,” says Amy Popovich, Nurse Manager for RHHD and founder of the program. “I’m so grateful to the community for helping us build this resource. Whether that’s visiting and utilizing the Resource Centers, sharing which services are most valuable, volunteering at the centers and even serving as Community Health Workers… it’s been a collaborative effort and we’re so thankful to the communities for partnering with us.”

“I’ve loved being a part of Mosby Resource Center and connecting with people who live here,” explains Alante Cannon, Community Health Worker. “I’ve been able to have real relationships with residents here… it’s been great for all of us to experience growth together.”

The Resource Centers are celebrating their anniversaries with community block parties this summer that feature connections to community resources, COVID-19 prevention services, food, music, and festivities. Many of the Resource Centers are opening their doors with services following a pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyone interested in making an appointment or getting connected to a resource center can visit rhhd.gov/rc or call 804-205-3501.

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Richmond and Henrico enter into high COVID-19 level

RICHMOND AND HENRICO ENTER INTO HIGH CDC COVID-19 COMMUNITY LEVEL

May 27, 2022- The CDC reported Richmond City and Henrico County as both having moved to the high COVID-19 community level. This comes two weeks after Henrico County and one week after Richmond City moved into medium levels.

The CDC’s COVID-19 community level is a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used for COVID-19, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

Based on CDC guidance for individuals who live in an area with high COVID-19 community level, RHHD recommends everyone who lives, works, or spends time in Richmond or Henrico  wear a mask indoors in public (regardless of vaccination status), stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, improve ventilation in indoor spaces, and follow CDC recommendations for isolation or quarantine if sick or exposed. Individuals who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe illness should wear a mask that provides greater protection, consider avoiding non-essential activities in public, and talk to their healthcare provider about whether they are a candidate for treatments. People who have a household or social contact with someone at high risk for severe disease should consider wearing a mask when indoors around them and getting tested before seeing them.

RHHD also continues to recommend everyone keep several at-home tests in their home in case it’s needed. Individuals can request free tests at covidtests.gov, purchase a test at a pharmacy and submit a claim to their insurance, or pick up a free COVID-19 home test at some Richmond Public Library locations (Broad Rock, East End, Ginter Park, Main Library, and North Ave). RHHD is also increasing the availability of free COVID-19 PCR test events to meet a potential increased demand; visit rchd.com for more information on testing.

“For any folks who have taken a break from indoor mask wearing during times of low and medium COVID-19 levels, now is the time to break out those masks from the drawer and make sure to stay diligent about wearing it in indoor places,” explains Dr. Viray, Acting Director at RHHD. “Mask wearing alongside vaccinations and staying home when sick will help us stay as safe as possible during this wave of higher COVID-19 levels.”

“We wear masks to keep ourselves and our neighbors safe… it can save a life,” explains Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “Richmond residents, let’s make smart choices given where the COVID-19 levels are in our community. Let’s do our part to stay safe during this wave of the pandemic.”

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 TO PAUSE CLINICAL SERVICES AT SOUTHWOOD RESOURCE CENTER

May 20, 2022- Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) are pausing clinical services at Southwood Resource Center and are rescheduling patients due to some maintenance issues at the site. Services operating out of the Southwood Poolhouse (COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and community outreach) will continue as scheduled.

RHHD called patients with appointments to reschedule them for another time or location and is working with property management to resolve the issue.

“This is an emerging and evolving situation,” explained Margo Webb, Director of Community Programs. “Our clinical and community teams remain dedicated to serving the health needs of Southwood residents and are exploring options to prevent a gap in services.”

Southwood Resource Center has offered chronic disease screening, cervical and breast exams, family planning services, and STI screening to the Southwood community since 2018.

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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RICHMOND CITY ENTERS MEDIUM CDC COVID-19 COMMUNITY LEVEL

May 20, 2022- Yesterday, the CDC reported Richmond City as having moved to the medium COVID-19 community level. This comes one week after Henrico County moved into the medium level. 

The CDC’s COVID-19 community level is a tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. 

Based on CDC guidance for individuals who live in an area with medium COVID-19 community level, RHHD recommends everyone who lives, works, or spends time in Richmond or Henrico to stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, improve ventilation in indoor spaces, and follow CDC recommendations for isolation or quarantine if sick or exposed. Individuals who are immunocompromised, at high risk for severe illness, or who spend time with high risk individuals should consider wearing a mask around others. 

RHHD also continues to recommend everyone keep several at-home tests in their home in case it’s needed. Individuals can request free tests at covidtests.gov, purchase a test at a pharmacy and submit a claim to their insurance, or pick up a free COVID-19 home test at some Richmond Public Library locations (Broad Rock, East End, Ginter Park, Main Library, and North Ave). RHHD is also increasing the availability of free COVID-19 PCR test events to meet a potential increased demand; visit rchd.com for more information on testing. 

“After monitoring the case counts in Richmond City over the past week, we’ve been anticipating that we were likely to move to the medium level,” explains Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor at RHHD. “We’ve increased our testing capacity, have distributed over 30k at home tests this year, and have encouraged folks to stay ready to ride the waves of the pandemic.” 

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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COVID-19 BOOSTERS NOW AVAILABLE FOR RICHMOND AND HENRICO CHILDREN AGES 5-11

May 20, 2022- Following the CDC and FDA approvals of Pfizer COVID-19 booster shots for 5-11 year olds, vaccination opportunities for Richmond and Henrico children are becoming available. Children will be able to access appointments through pediatricians, pharmacies, and Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD). Parents are encouraged to visit vax.rchd.com, call 804-205-3501, or check with their pediatrician or pharmacy to find an appointment. RHHD’s walk in vaccine clinics will begin offering boosters to children next week. The next available after school clinics are Tuesday, May 24, 2022 at Whitcomb Resource Center from 3:00pm-5:00pm and Wednesday, May 25, 2022 at Mosby Resource Center from 2:00pm-4:00pm. Children also qualify to receive their booster in their home through the Doses on Demand program which can be scheduled by calling 804-205-3501.

“Staying up to date on vaccines remains the best tool we have at preventing serious infections from COVID-19,” explains Joanna Cirillo, Public Health Nurse Supervisor. “We’re eager to give boosters to the little ones to ensure they are as safe from COVID-19 as possible.”

RHHD recommends everyone eligible for their first or second booster to get one. Everyone over the age of 5 can get their booster after completing their primary series. Adults ages 50 or over, people ages 12 years or older who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, and people who got two doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are eligible to receive a second booster. Visit the CDC’s website for more information.

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 AND RAA RECOMMEND OFFER HEAT SAFETY TIPS AHEAD OF HIGH TEMPERATURE WEEKEND

May 19, 2022- Richmond and Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) and Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) encourage Richmond area residents to take precautions to avoid heat related illness this weekend.

“Severe hot weather can pose risks to individuals’ health,” says Jessica Coughlin, Emergency Manager at RHHD. “Folks can still have fun this summer while staying safe… just stay aware of the temperature, personal health considerations, and safety precautions.”

“Unfortunately, we can see an uptick in heat related illnesses and calls when temperatures get really high,” says Chad Greedan, Director of Field Operations at RAA. “We want to help the community recognize the signs of heat illness so they don’t have an emergency situation.”

RHHD and RAA recommend the following to remain safe during high temperatures:

  • Stay cool indoors. Stay in air-conditioned places as much as possible. If air conditioning your home is difficult, consider spending some time in a public library, shopping mall, or other public air conditioned building. Taking a cool shower or bath and minimizing the use of the stove and oven can help keep a lower temperature in the house. Wear light and loose clothing. Electric fans will not prevent heat related illness if the temperature is above 90 degrees.

  • Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Try to limit outdoor activities to when it’s coolest like in the morning or evening. Rest often in shady areas.

  • Stay hydrated. Drink more fluids, avoid sugary or alcoholic drinks, and replace salt and minerals. Keep your pets hydrated with cool water, too!

  • Know the signs for heat related illness and how to respond. If a person has heavy sweating, cold and clammy skin, a fast and weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness, headaches, or is feeling faint, they likely have heat exhaustion. Move to a cool place, loosen clothes, put cool, wet cloths on your body, and sip water. Seek medical help if you are throwing up, your symptoms get worse, your symptoms last longer than an hour. If a person has a high body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, hot and red skin, a fast and strong pulse, confusion, or loses consciousness, they likely have heat stroke. Call 911 right away, move that person to a cooler place, and do not give them anything to drink.

 

For more information on heat related illness, visit the CDC’s website.

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.

 

About the Richmond Ambulance Authority: In 1991, the Richmond City Council and the City Manager implemented an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) system that placed the patient first and guaranteed its performance to the City’s residents. Today, the Richmond Ambulance Authority responds to nearly 200 calls per day and transports, on average, 150 patients per day. RAA is one of only 32 EMS agencies in the United States accredited by both the Commission on the Accreditation of Ambulance Services and the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch. RAA is also a Commonwealth of Virginia Accredited Dispatch Center. RAA’s staff has consistently received local, state, and national recognition for their work in EMS. In 2020 RAA staff members were recognized by the Old Dominion EMS Alliance (ODEMSA) in four categories at the ODEMSA Regional Awards.

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