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WTHD to move to Phase 1B next week

The Western Tidewater Health District announced Wednesday that next week it will move into Phase 1B of its COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Based on the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination plan, Phase 1B includes frontline essential workers, those 65 years of age and older, and individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 with a high risk medical condition. A full breakdown of Phase 1B can be found here: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/

“We are excited to move through the phases of our vaccination plan at a feverish pace,” said Dr. Lauren James, interim director of the Western Tidewater Health District. James continued, “Our staff has done an exceptional job planning for this vaccine rollout and strives to continue to provide exceptional service to the localities we serve just as we have done through the entire pandemic.”

Organizations that fall into the categories outlined in Phase 1B are asked to email Will Drewery, district emergency manager at will.drewery@vdh.virginia.gov, to gain access to the online scheduling portal.

Citizens 65 and older who are unable to obtain vaccine through their healthcare provider or a pharmacy are asked to call one of the following numbers to make an appointment.

  • Suffolk: 757-514-4781
  • Isle of Wight: 757-279-3070
  • Franklin: 757-562-6109
  • Southampton: 757-653-3040

District Emergency Manager Will Drewery stated Wednesday evening that the number listed for Suffolk will be manned during business hours, even though citizens have reported trouble reaching the health department in recent weeks. Drewery said that was because of the building being closed.

“We have gotten the city (of Suffolk) to make some concessions to us,” he said.

Drewery also urged people to be patient. “The number of appointments we’re going to make is going to depend largely on the number of vaccines we’re able to get,” Drewery said.

He added that the district had not yet had any trouble getting the number of doses requested.

“We don’t sit on doses,” he said. “Everything that we receive goes out within the same week.”

Drewery said anyone who is an essential worker in 1B AND has a preexisting health condition is urged to access the vaccine through their employer to reserve clinic space for others who cannot access it through their employer.

The workforce categories in 1B include the following:

  • Police, fire and hazmat
  • Corrections and homeless shelter workers
  • Childcare/PreK-12 teachers and staff, public and private
  • Food and agriculture, including veterinarians
  • Manufacturing
  • Grocery store workers
  • Public transit workers
  • Mail carriers, U.S. Postal Service and private
  • Officials needed to maintain continuity of government

The list of medical conditions that qualify people ages 16-64 for Phase 1B includes:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD
  • Down syndrome
  • Heart conditions
  • Solid organ transplant recipient
  • Overweight or obese
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cycstic fibrosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids or other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Thalassemia

Vaccine is expected to be in very high demand, and the district asks for the public’s patience as they navigate through the various phases of vaccine deployment.