The Virginia Department of Health on Tuesday launched a new, centralized website where Virginians can preregister for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This ‘one-stop-shop’ website allows individuals to preregister online, check that they are preregistered, and access additional information on Virginia’s vaccination roll-out,” the VDH states in a Tuesday news release.
The site is available at https://vax.preregister.virginia.gov/#/
For those who cannot preregister online, the VDH is launching an accompanying hotline number today.
“The idea is to give everyone the chance to sign up,” Dr. Colin Greene, director of the Lord Fairfax Health District, said on Monday while anticipating the site launch.
Unlike at the Valley Health website, where for the last several weeks area residents have been asked to return each day to secure a spot for vaccination clinics, Greene said the statewide system is not signing up people for specific times or events.
Instead, he said it’s a waitlist through which Virginians can register once and then wait for an available appointment.
“Virginians who have previously preregistered through their local health district have been automatically imported into the new system and do not need to preregister again,” the news release states.
The Lord Fairfax district did not have a waitlist, so residents from Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren who have not already received a vaccine, registered in another way or secured an appointment and still want one are encouraged to access the statewide system to register.
“Data migration is continuing throughout the week and it may take several days for your name to appear in the centralized system,” the release states. “Everyone who has previously registered is still on the list, and their status will not be affected.”
A Valley Health official said on Tuesday that it will take a little time to sort out how the new statewide pre-registration system will interface with Valley Health’s existing vaccine registration platform. Through online registration and a call center, Valley Health has been scheduling vaccination appointments at Shenandoah University in Winchester, as well as locations in Front Royal, Woodstock and Luray.
The vaccine will be available through other registration methods as well, such as through area participating pharmacies.
So far, CVS is the only national chain that has launched a partnership in Virginia through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.
Because of technological limits with CVS Pharmacy’s national appointment system, Virginians must continue to register for CVS appointments through the CVS Pharmacy website at cvs.com, the VDH news release states.
Greene said area pharmacies participating with the Virginia Department of Health are Rotz Pharmacy at 1338 Amherst St. in Winchester, Martin’s Pharmacy at 200 Rivendell Court in Winchester, Lantz’s Pharmacy at 5015 Main St. in Stephens City, and Strasburg Pharmacy at 33820 Old Valley Pike, Unit 7, in Strasburg.
These pharmacies receive vaccines as available, based on how many the local health district receives, Greene said on Tuesday,
The district “is only allocated 800 first-dose shots … per week,” he said. By contrast, he noted that the district administered more than 1,200 shots on Friday alone at its second-dose clinic at Clarke County High School.
The health district shares 400 of its weekly allotment with the participating pharmacies and a low-income clinic in Front Royal, he said.
Walmart, at its corporate website, corporate.walmart.com/covid-vaccine, has also announced its role in the federal program in select states.
Though the website goodrx.com lists Walmart locations in Winchester, Front Royal and Woodstock as carrying the vaccine, Virginia is not among the 22 states and other localities in Walmart’s initial rollout, nor is Maryland, West Virginia or Washington, D.C.
A notice at goodrx.com as of Tuesday states, “GoodRx is collecting vaccine inventory and appointments at sites across the country. We’re constantly adding new pharmacies, government locations, hospitals and more — check back frequently.”
Because millions of people were expected to visit the state website on Tuesday and throughout the week, the VDH said its IT teams will be addressing back-end components as needed and asked people who can’t access the site immediately to try again.
Gov. Ralph Northam plans to provide additional information about the hotline at a news conference today.
“Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine currently far outstrips supply, and it is expected to take several months to reach all who want to be vaccinated,” the news release explains.
“Virginia is prioritizing people who qualify for Phase 1B: people age 65 and older; frontline essential workers; those living and working in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and migrant labor camps; and individuals with high-risk medical conditions.”