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State vaccine eligibility to open for everyone 16 and up 

Anyone in Virginia age 16 and up will be eligible to get a free COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 18.

This comes as about half of all adults in the state have received at least one dose.

Those looking to find and schedule appointments can go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, 7-1-1 for TTY users).

Northam released a video message April 16 urging the state’s adults who have not already gotten the vaccine to schedule an appointment with the state moving into Phase 2 of vaccinations.

Expanding the state’s eligibility meets President Joe Biden’s goal for all adults to be eligible by April 19.

“Over the past few months, we have made tremendous progress vaccinating Virginians as quickly, safely, and equitably as possible, and we need to keep up the good work,” Northam said in a statement. “With COVID-19 cases on the rise in many parts of Virginia and across the country, it is important that everyone has an opportunity to make a vaccination appointment.

“If you are over 16 and want to get the safe, effective, and free vaccine, please make a plan to get your shot. The more people who get vaccinated, the faster we can end this pandemic and get back to our normal lives.”

More than 5.1 million doses have been administered in the state, 3.3 million people have received at least one dose, and 23.5% of state residents are fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Department of Health data available April 16.

In Suffolk, 44,835 vaccine doses have been administered, 28,655 people have received at least one dose, and 16,701 people have been fully vaccinated. In Isle of Wight County, 23,325 doses have been administered, 14,413 have received at least one dose and 9,185 have been fully vaccinated. There have been 8,891 vaccine doses administered in Southampton County, with 5,575 people having received at least one dose and 3,403 being fully vaccinated. In Franklin, 4,459 doses have been administered, 2,792 people have received at least one dose and 1,727 people have been fully vaccinated.

Appointments will still be required for most vaccinations, though people can schedule them directly through the Vaccinate Virginia system or by calling the state’s vaccination hotline. The state system will link to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Finder website, which allows people to use a map-based tool to find appointments at community vaccination centers, local health departments, pharmacies and hospitals.

The state health department still cautions people that they may have to wait for an appointment with demand outpacing supply in many parts of the state, especially with the pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has not yet made a decision on resuming its use. It will hold another virtual meeting April 23. The CDC is investigating a rare and severe blood clot found in six people who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One of the six, a Virginia resident, died.

“Part of the reason for making this decision was, one, to identify if there are other cases that would fall into this category, other individuals who had a similar stroke-like event in the context of low platelets,” said Dr. Danny Avula, state vaccine coordinator. “And then see if there’s a higher incident of this scenario. But also because of the uniqueness of treating this condition, the CDC and FDA felt like it was really important to alert healthcare providers to these instances.

“Because some of the normal treatments in the context of a stroke, heparin namely, can actually make this condition worse. And so they felt that it was important to bring this to the attention of healthcare providers to ensure that they ask about a vaccination history if they see this combination of a stroke-like event and low platelet count and to not use heparin in the treatment of those cases.”

Those eligible in Phase 1 who had not been able to find an appointment should pre-register for a priority appointment. State officials say those who want the vaccine should be able to get at least a first dose by the end of May.

Those ages 16 and 17 are only eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved only for those ages 18 and older. Anyone under 18 will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when receiving the vaccine.

As of April 16, Riverside Health System has opened up vaccine appointments to anyone age 16 and older, whether or not the person has been a Riverside patient. The general public can use the following link: https://mychart.riversideonline.com/mychart/covid19/#/. Riverside patients can go to https://mychart.riversideonline.com/mychart/Authentication/Login. People can also call 757-534-5050. Eastern Shore of Virginia residents can call 757-442-6600 to schedule a vaccine appointment.

Riverside is asking that if people do not find a convenient appointment, to check back, as it adds appointments as it gets new vaccine shipments.

All Hampton Roads residents ages 16 and up can get a Pfizer BionNTech vaccine from now through May 1 at Military Circle Mall in Norfolk. The center will also administer second doses through May 23.

People can register for a vaccine appointment online at norfolk.gov/covid19vaccine, or they can come to the center and register there. Same-day appointments are available depending on availability.

The Military Circle Mall site will be providing up to 1,000 first doses per day beginning April 19 through the May 1 cutoff for first doses. During that time, another 2,000 doses will be allocated for second shots for those who have received their vaccine in the past three weeks.