Health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first Virginia residents to receive the coronavirus vaccine, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced Friday afternoon.

Virginia is now preparing to receive an estimated total of 480,000 doses of vaccine from two manufacturers (Pfizer and Moderna) by the end of December 2020, according to information from the health department.

The VDH estimates that there are up to 500,000 health care providers and long-term care facility residents in the state.

“Vaccine will be provided to Virginians in a way that is fair, ethical, and transparent,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver, in a news release. “We will focus initially on the groups that have been most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 infections and those whose work puts them at greatest risk of contracting COVID-19 infections. Over time, as more vaccine supply becomes available, more Virginians will be able to get vaccinated, and we can look forward to a time when this pandemic will end.”

The first shipment of vaccines is expected to be received from Pfizer in mid-December and will require ultracold storage (negative 70 degrees Celsius). All of 72,150 initial doses will be distributed directly to geographically diverse health care systems with ultracold storage capacity and will go to health care providers. Health care personnel who directly care for COVID-19 patients will receive top priority among health care providers.

Subsequent weekly shipments are expected to begin after the initial shipment and will be divided among health care providers and long-term care facility residents. The majority of long-term care facility residents will receive vaccinations from CVS and Walgreens’ teams. Health care systems and public health departments will make sure access to vaccination for all HCP and LTCF residents remains equitably across the entire state.

The actual amount of vaccine received in Virginia is a moving target, the news release said, and depends on when and how quickly vaccination doses are manufactured.

VDH is coordinating future prioritization based on federal guidance.

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