Local health officials are asking residents who’ve already been vaccinated to update their records on the state’s centralized registration system, even if they’ve only received the first of two doses.
When people are vaccinated, their names and addresses are entered into the Virginia Immunization Information System. Then, the Virginia Department of Health keeps a running tally on its website of how many doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered by each locality and across the state.
That system is different from the registration site at vaccinate.virginia.gov. Residents from across Virginia sign up for the vaccine on that website, and local health districts draw from names listed there when it’s time to schedule a vaccination clinic.
For various reasons, some people who’ve already gotten their shots are listed as unvaccinated on the registration site, said Mary Chamberlin, public relations specialist for the Rappahannock Area Health District. That’s why health officials are asking residents to verify their information for correct spellings and to make sure their names are listed the same way on both the registration site and the immunization registry.
To do that, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov and click on the red button to "Verify & Update Your Record."
The state registration site has added a question about whether people have received at least one dose of vaccine. That question is at the top of the form. Then, people are asked if they were vaccinated by the federal government or a vaccine provider in or out of Virginia.
Updating the records helps gives local health districts an accurate number of registrants, Chamberlin said, and it also keeps those who’ve signed up from getting weekly text or email alerts.
No one’s place in line or reference code will be affected by the updates, according to the state. Those who want to verify their records over the phone can contact the state’s call center at 877/829-4682 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
All health districts in the Fredericksburg region have entered the second phase of vaccinations and are scheduling appointments for anyone in the general public, age 16 and older. No walk-ins are accepted at any local clinics.
The Rappahannock-Rapidan Health District, which includes Culpeper, Fauquier and Orange counties, led the local pack and opened up vaccines to all more than a week ago.
The Rappahannock Area Health District, which includes Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford, moved to the second phase on Friday.
The Three Rivers Health District, which includes Westmoreland County and other localities in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, on Monday joined the list of those excited to roll out the vaccine to anyone interested.
“We look forward to expanding vaccination opportunities to the general public who have been waiting their turn,” said Dr. Richard Williams, director.
The expansion comes as Virginia cases have plateaued somewhat and have averaged between 1,400 and 1,500 new cases a day since mid-March. The same trend is not true in the Rappahannock Area Health District, where the number of new cases has been climbing in that same timeframe.
In mid-March, the seven-day average was 34 new cases a day. On Monday, it stood at 96. Thursday marked the highest single-day increase in seven weeks, with 122 additional people in the local health district testing positive.
Two days later, on Saturday, another 146 new cases were reported.
In addition, the local health district’s positivity rate, which measures the number of positive COVID-19 tests among all those taken, has remained higher than the state average in recent weeks. It was 9.4 percent on Monday, second only among neighboring health districts to the Prince William Health District, which had a positivity rate of 9.6 percent.
Virginia’s rate was 6.1 percent.
Increasing cases and more contagious variants of the virus have led some health officials to fear the United States will experience a fourth surge of virus cases before enough people are vaccinated to provide the needed “herd immunity.” About 75 percent of the residents in a particular community, state or country need to be vaccinated—or gain immunity from already having the disease—to stop the spread of it.
Meanwhile, the area’s three hospitals continue to treat almost 50 patients a day for virus symptoms. The patient count reached its peak in January, when almost 100 patients were hospitalized each, then dropped down to the 30s, but has been rising again in recent weeks.
Mary Washington Hospital, Stafford Hospital and Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center all have plans to vaccinate inpatients before they’re discharged. Mary Washington and Stafford started giving the vaccines a week ago, and Spotsylvania plans to begin Tuesday.
All three will administer the Johnson & Johnson one-shot dose to those age 18 and over who are admitted to the hospital, not patients who’ve had outpatient procedures or come through the emergency room.
As local health officials continue to monitor ongoing cases, hospitalizations and deaths, they also are dealing with COVID-19 in their own buildings. The King George Health Department announced on Monday it will be closed to the public all week because of a COVID-19 exposure, Chamberlin said. No clinical services are happening there anyway because of vaccination clinics, but staff will continue to answer questions over the phone or through email.
The building will reopen to the public next week.
In addition, the local health district on Monday reported its 256th death from COVID-19: a Spotsylvania County man, Black and in his 70s. He was not a resident of a long-term care facility.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425