Southside Health District expands COVID-19 vaccination to “Phase 1b” recipients

Beginning Monday, January 18, the Pittsylvania-Danville and Southside health districts will begin conducting closed “point of dispensing” (POD) COVID-19 vaccination clinics specifically for “Phase 1b” priority groups. Phase 1b is the second group eligible to receive the vaccine, and includes police, fire and hazmat response personnel, those living and working in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, childcare/K-12 teachers and staff, food and agriculture workers, manufacturers, grocery store workers, public transit workers, mail carriers (USPS and private), anyone 65 years and older, and those individuals 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions. Residents in Phase 1a will still be provided opportunities to receive the vaccine.

Individuals will be required to bring a personal form of identification such as a driver’s license, and may also be asked to show proof of qualification, such as a work ID, in order to verify eligibility. These PODs are specifically for Phase 1b and 1a; COVID-19 vaccine is not available to the general public and these are not public events.

“We are pleased to move to the next phase and to be able to provide a safe and effective vaccine to more people,” said Dr. Scott Spillmann, director of the Pittsylvania-Danville and Southside health districts. “But, as we enter Phase 1b, we will begin administering the second doses to those in 1a. We ask everyone to please be patient as we recruit as many contract staff and volunteers as we can to help with this.”

Essential employees will be scheduled through their employers. Vaccination planning teams are reaching out to coordinate with employers in Phase 1b. Employers of Phase 1b essential create a spreadsheet with all the qualifying employees- proper name, contact email (and mobile phone if desired), and indicate which employees has expressed a willingness to accept the vaccine.

Individuals 65 years and older and those 16-64 years with high risk medical conditions who live in PDHD should call (434) 766-9828 and those individuals in SSHD should call (434) 738-6545 to schedule an appointment. Both health districts are experiencing high call volumes and ask that callers be patient.

As availability of the vaccine increases, Virginia will move to the other phases. Phase 1c will include other essential workers. The complete definitions of all phases, data and other information, are on VDH’s Vaccine Response website at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/. Anyone can use this brief eligibility to find out which vaccination phase they fall under.

Virginians who do not fall into priority phases will be offered the COVID-19 vaccine when it is more widely available. Once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine. People will be able to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy, primary care physician, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)/free clinic, local health department or other clinic that is participating as a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider.

In the meantime, it is important to remain vigilant in COVID-19 prevention. Continue to protect yourself and others: cover your mouth and nose with a mask, wash your hands often and well, stay at least six feet away from others, avoid gatherings with anyone who is not a member of your household and get a flu shot.

You can learn more about the vaccine, its safety and answers to frequently asked questions at VDH’s website and CDC’s website.