By Ted Shockley
The entire Eastern Shore of Virginia is projected to receive only 500 doses weekly of COVID-19 vaccine over the next six to eight weeks, according to the local Heath Department.
Jon Richardson, chief operating officer of the Eastern Shore Health District, told the Northampton County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night that Accomack and Northampton counties are equipped to administer more than 1,800 vaccine doses per week.
He said the shortfall is part of an overall lack of COVID-19 vaccine doses across the state, which recently requested 300,000 doses but only got a third of the request.
“The supply is just not there for us,” said Richardson.
The 500 doses are divided among Riverside Medical Group, Eastern Shore Rural Health and the Health Department itself.
The Eastern Shore needs thousands more. Richardson said two weeks ago he requested 4,250 doses but received 1,000.
He said the Eastern Shore has had 64 COVID-related deaths.
Richardson said the Eastern Shore was one of the first areas statewide to move to Phase 1b, which allows those older than 65, or with pre-existing conditions, to be vaccinated.
Other included in Phase 1b include first responders, teachers, food-service workers and more.
Richardson estimated there were between 20,000-25,000 people on the Eastern Shore in the Phase 1b group.
Richardson said local COVID-19 rates have been falling of late after a “fairly large peak” after the December holidays.
He also said the Health Department’s hotline and online complaint portal continue to receive between five to 10 complaints weekly, mostly about people not wearing masks in public.
Richardson said he was in talks to have the vaccination shots given at the Wal-Mart in Onley, but the lack of supply has postponed the plan.
“We had to put them on hold,” Richardson said of Wal-Mart.