April Achter, population health coordinator for the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District of the Virginia Health Department, addressed residents’ concerns about vaccine administration in an email Friday morning. (The RRHD serves Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock counties.) She said, “We understand that our community is facing a great deal of stress about how to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination. We are working hard to get the vaccine to our residents as quickly as we can.”
How to get a vaccine
Achter emphasized that residents should register for the vaccine through a central portal on rrhd.org by filling out the appropriate survey. She recognizes that some who have registered have waited weeks with no word yet about an appointment.
Achter said, “We, along with our partners, are contacting individuals to schedule appointments in the order their survey response was received and our vaccine inventory levels allow. The process to vaccinate all interested persons is likely to occur over many months. As much as possible, our clinics will remain appointment based, to both minimize crowding and avoid long lines.”
Achter said the health district is also coordinating targeted outreach to at-risk populations and working to get vaccine into private pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Four pharmacies in the health district received a small amount of vaccine in January. Two primary care offices – Piedmont Family Practice in Warrenton and Orange Family Practice in Orange County -- were selected to assist with vaccination efforts because they have completed CDC provider agreements, are offering after hours and/or weekend vaccination clinics and have the capacity to store vaccine at ultra-cold temperatures, Achter explained.
Vaccination effort in the commonwealth
Achter said, “We are receiving many questions regarding how the Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District compares to other jurisdictions in Virginia. For reference, you may find it here: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine-summary/.”
In an effort to address a slightly lower vaccination rate in Madison County, the RRHD is collaborating with Culpeper Medical Center and Madison County to hold pop-up clinics. Achter said, “Our neighboring health district, Lord Fairfax (which includes Winchester), has spectacular vaccination rates due to Valley Health’s strong community outreach efforts.”
She said, “This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation. The amount of vaccine received in Virginia will be a moving target and depend on when and how quickly vaccination doses are manufactured. As amounts increase and/or additional providers are eligible to receive and administer vaccine, we will re-evaluate.”
She suggested that residents monitor the health district’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/RappRapHD), webpage (www.rrhd.org) and VDH's COVID-19 Vaccine webpage (https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/) for information regarding when additional vaccine capacity is available in the district and/or when other vaccination sites such as local doctors and pharmacies become available.