District lags behind parts of state in vaccinated percentages
Keep plugging away.
That’s the mantra for the New River Health District as staff members and volunteers continue the push to vaccinate as many people as possible for the coronavirus, traveling to community events, housing developments, convenience stores, and more.
Approximately, 70,000 people, or 39 percent, in the district are fully vaccinated, said Noelle Bissell, district health director, during a June 21 meeting with the news media. At least 45 percent of those vaccinated are older than 16 years old.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced on June 21 that on average, 70 percent of Virginians ages 18 and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. This makes Virginia the 16th state in the nation to meet this vaccination goal set by President Joe Biden ahead of the July 4th holiday.
Even so, the New River Valley lags behind some areas of the state. Bissell said she does not expect the district to reach the 70 percent goal by July 4.
The goal represents herd immunity, which occurs when a majority of a population is vaccinated.
“When you look at getting control of the pandemic, the way to do that is through herd immunity. The way we get herd immunity is through vaccination,” Bissell said.
She went on to explain that there are COVID-19 variants circulating in the state. Still, the district is seeing “strong protection” against serious illness, hospitalization, and deaths, even with the variants, in people who are fully vaccinated for the coronavirus, she said.
“People who are not vaccinated are just as high risk as ever, and because of that we do see that most of our current hospitalizations and more serious illness are in people who are not vaccinated,” Bissell said.
Also, the district still hears from people who don’t want to receive a vaccine for a variety of reasons, such as a concern that vaccines were developed too quickly.
People need to understand that no shortcuts were taken in developing the vaccines available, Bissell said. Tens of thousands of people were included in the trials.
Also, the same technology used to develop the vaccines has been used for decades in cancer therapies and in trials involving humans, she said.
Additionally, any side effects to the vaccine may show up within days to months of receiving it. But they are minimal, compared with some of the long-term and chronic problems that people are developing after having had COVID-19, Bissell said.
“We have really good evidence right now that the vaccines that are available are helping people start to get back to normal activity,” she said. “They decrease the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death. When you are trying to get out of a pandemic like this, that’s what we need.”
— Written by Jenny Kincaid Boone
Vaccines are required for Virginia Tech students and strongly encouraged for university employees. Here’s the breakdown of when vaccines should be received and verification uploaded.
Moderna (4 weeks between shots): First shot no later than July 8, second shot no later than Aug. 5, upload verification no later than Aug. 6 deadline
Pfizer (3 weeks between shots): First shot no later than July 15, second shot no later than Aug. 5, upload verification no later than Aug. 6 deadline
J&J (one shot): Shot no later than Aug. 5, upload verification no later than Aug. 6 deadline
Moderna (4 weeks between shots): First shot no later than July 17, second shot no later than Aug. 14, upload verification no later than Aug. 15 deadline
Pfizer (3 weeks between shots): First shot no later than July 24, second shot no later than Aug. 14, upload verification no later than Aug. 15 deadline
J&J (one shot): Shot no later than Aug. 14, upload verification no later than Aug. 15 deadline