At Augusta Health, as first vaccinations of community healthcare providers and second doses for employees of Augusta Health continue, the Vaccination Task Force is working closely with the Central Shenandoah Health District (CSHD) on planning to vaccinate those in the community who are in Virginia's Phase 1B.
"Today, we are very actively involved in vaccinating all healthcare workers in our community," says John Mack, PA, Chief Operations Officer of Augusta Medical Group and a member of Augusta Health's Vaccine Task Force. "They are all a part of Phase 1a, and we are working to complete those vaccines as quickly as possible."
Because COVID-19 vaccine supply is limited, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) developed a plan to vaccinate specific groups of people over a number of phases. The VDH plan is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These recommendations were developed with the intention to decrease COVID-19 deaths and serious disease, preserve a functioning society and reduce the extra burden COVID-19 has on people facing disparities.
Locally, Virginia's Phase 1B vaccinations are the responsibility of CSHD and Augusta Health collaborates and supports CSHD by providing space for Vaccination Clinics, providing staff to assist in the clinics and sharing supplies as needed. The focus of all is to vaccinate the community as quickly as is possible.
Virginia's Phase 1B includes Frontline Essential Workers, persons aged 75 years and older, and those living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps. Essential workers are those who work in areas that are vital to the functioning of our community, are at a substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID-19, and are not able to work remotely. Examples of essential workers include police, fire department employees, teachers and mail carriers among others.
Augusta Health is actively working with CSHD to open the Vaccine Clinic for essential workers. As capacity permits, essential workers will most likely be scheduled for vaccinations though a process coordinated with their employer. For example, the CSHD and Augusta Health are working with local school districts to connect to teachers.
Concurrently, plans are being finalized for vaccine clinics for those 75 and older. This will be a very large number of people, so plans need to carefully consider the size of this group and the best way to safely administer the vaccine, and provide for the 15 minute post-vaccination observation period, to a large at-risk population.
As of the end of the day on January 10, Augusta Health has administered 2,529 COVID-19 vaccines.