Officials expect “significant increase” in COVID-19 vaccine doses beginning next week

The Blue Ridge Health District opened to Phase 1C in its COVID-19 vaccination effort Thursday.

People who have pre-registered through the state system and qualify as one of the essential workers in Phase 1C will begin receiving invitations from the health district to make vaccine appointments as soon as today. Officials expect all invitations to go out by early next week.

The district expects to open to everyone — or Phase 2 — by April 18.

Earlier this week, the district sent invitations to everyone remaining who fall into either Phase 1A or 1B. Those invitations went out either as emails from the address vams@cdc.gov, or from calls from the district’s hotline.

The opening of the new phase comes as the health district says it is receiving a “significant increase” in vaccines from the state.

“We’re beginning to see that significant increase that we need to move much more quickly in the vaccination campaign,” said Ryan McKay, BRHD’s COVID-19 Incident Commander. “This presents us with the opportunity to significantly increase access to the vaccine next week.”

The health district will receive nearly 15,000 first doses of either Pfizer or Moderna vaccines next week and nearly 1,500 second doses. The district may also receive an additional shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week.

Nearly 50,000 people in BRHD who qualify as either Phase 1A or 1B have been fully vaccinated as of this week, according to the district.

The district has roughly 200,000 people aged 16 and above, who may get the vaccine.

As of Thursday, there were around 11,000 people in BRHD who qualify as either 1A or 1B pre-registered with the state to receive a dose. Around 7,000 people who qualify as 1C were registered.

The state allocates doses to the local health districts based on the number of people who have pre-registered in the statewide system. Everyone, regardless of the phase they fall in, may pre-register. To do so, click here.