Free COVID-19 vaccinations for Tier 1B starts at regional sites on Wednesday

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Vaccine Phase 1 B
Page Valley News will have continuing coverage of the Coronavirus' impact on Page County.

~ Press release issued by Valley Health

WINCHESTER, Jan. 8 — Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District have announced they will begin offering free COVID-19 vaccinations to some individuals in the Virginia Department of Health’s Tier 1b population — specifically those 75 and over, police, and K-12 teachers and staff — at several locations in the region beginning as early as Wednesday, January 13.

Starting next week, Valley Health will be opening four vaccination PODs (Points of Distribution) in the Lord Fairfax Health District — Winchester, Woodstock, Front Royal and Luray.

In Winchester, vaccinations will be given at the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center in collaboration with Shenandoah University. Three additional PODs for community vaccination will operate at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock, Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, and a drive- through clinic at Page Memorial Hospital in Luray.

A vaccination “pilot day” will take place at Shenandoah University on Tuesday for a small group of individuals before the clinic officially starts Wednesday morning.

A statewide vaccination registration system is being developed and is expected to be available on Monday, Jan. 11. At that point, specific dates, times, locations and registration information will be available for eligible Tier 1b individuals. The registration process will allow individuals to reserve a time slot for their vaccination at all Valley Health sites. More information will be available at www.valleyhealthlink.com once the PODs are operational.

Since mid-December, Valley Health has administered the two-part Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to hospital and community caregivers, with assistance from Shenandoah University health professions faculty and students, and a variety of other community volunteers.

“Over the last three weeks, we have vaccinated nearly 6,000 healthcare workers and community providers, and are eager to get vaccine into more arms within our community,” said Jeffrey Feit, MD, Vice President-Population Health at Valley Health. “Our caregivers are doing a remarkable job treating ever higher numbers of COVID-19 patients, but it is stressful and unsustainable. We are hopeful that widespread acceptance of this safe and effective vaccine will bring caseloads under control and allow us to get back to normal life.”

“Despite our best efforts to urge universal masking, social distancing and hand washing, COVID-19 continues to spike in our region, particularly among the elderly,” said Lord Fairfax Health District Medical Director Colin Greene, MD. “We have two highly effective vaccines in hand, ready to administer. If you are 75 or older, work in law enforcement or in K-12 education, please schedule a vaccination immediately. The sooner we can approach herd immunity in our regional community, the sooner we’ll be able to return to life as we knew it.”

Establishing a POD vaccination clinic at Shenandoah University offers capacity and convenience for the community and the faculty, students and other volunteers. Officials expect to administer at least 1,200 to 1,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses each day at SU, with another 1,000 per week combined at the three clinics in Warren, Shenandoah and Page counties.

“Our faculty, staff and health professions students are honored to be a part of the response to this community health crisis through our longstanding partnership with Valley Health and the Lord Fairfax Health District,” said Shenandoah University President Tracy Fitzsimmons, PhD. “We all have a role in advancing the health of our most vulnerable community members, our neighbors, and our families and we are proud to serve the community in this essential role.”

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