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For the latest COVID-19 information, visit vcuhealth.org/covid-19 or Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU for pediatrics. For vaccine details, visit vcuhealth.org/covidvaccine.

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An update on our COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Aerial shot of downtown campus

As a health system, we exist to serve you with your very best interests in mind. We are guided by our mission to serve people throughout Virginia and beyond, and we have doubled down on our commitment since the onset of the pandemic.

We are sharing an update on VCU Health’s vaccination process. While the vaccine has brought renewed hope and optimism for ending the pandemic, limited supply and confusion regarding when, where and how one can get vaccinated has led to understandable frustration. We want to be transparent about VCU Health’s role in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, where we are today, and our plans going forward.

Late last year, when the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) asked health systems if they would be willing to receive and administer COVID-19 vaccines to health care workers, VCU Health System agreed to do so. We created a tiered vaccination plan aligned with state guidelines, first offering vaccine to those in direct contact with COVID-positive patients and essential support personnel. As of Feb. 14, nearly 70% our team members have been vaccinated, creating a safer environment for them and all patients who count on VCU Health for their care.

As supply increased in January, we followed the directive and guidelines provided by the VDH and began offering vaccinations to patients as quickly as possible. We were delighted to do so.

Consistent with guidance provided by the VDH, we first offered the vaccine to our most vulnerable patients age 75 and over. Staying true to our mission to serve all Virginians, we also opened small community vaccination clinics in Richmond’s East End and Southside, and shared vaccines to help South Hill and Tappahannock regions as part of our commitment to these communities. Patient and community vaccinations accounted for the final 35% of first-dose vaccines we initially received.

At the end of January, VDH asked us to loan the second-dose COVID-19 vaccines we had on-hand to local health districts so they could be administered immediately as “dose 1” vaccinations to vulnerable community members in the 1b category. As a result, 7,000 additional people in the community are protected from the virus. The VDH upheld its promise to return to us the same number of second doses, so our health care workers stayed on schedule to be fully vaccinated.

Unfortunately, over the last three weeks, the nationwide shortage of vaccine forced us to pause our patient vaccination efforts until supply improves. We hope that will happen soon.

This brings us to the present day.

To help the Commonwealth weather this challenging period, Virginia has created a new vaccine distribution system. The state’s scarce vaccine supply is now managed directly by VDH and local health departments in order to maximize equitable distribution.

What does this mean for you?

Currently, VCU Health is not receiving dose 1 vaccine. We are, however, continuing to receive dose 2 vaccine. This means that anyone who received their first dose through VCU Health can get their second dose within the timeframe recommended by the manufacturers and endorsed by the CDC.

If and when we begin to receive dose 1 vaccines again, we will contact VCU Health patients who meet eligibility guidelines established by VDH by phone call or text message and encourage you to make a vaccination appointment as soon as possible.

We thank you for your patience as we work with you, our local health districts and the VDH to ensure a smooth vaccination process. We all have the same goal: To get on the other side of this pandemic and ensure the health and wellbeing of our community during the process.

Please continue to visit vcuhealth.org/covidvaccine for more information. Individuals who are currently eligible for vaccination should considering pre-registering through VDH at vaccinate.virginia.gov.