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More shots given as virus rages in Halifax / January 21, 2021

The Halifax County Health Department is carrying out mass vaccinations against a backdrop of rapid spread of COVID-19 in Halifax County, an effort that cannot go fast enough for those who want to get inoculated.

On Tuesday the health department conducted a vaccine event at the Mary Bethune Complex gym for members of the Phase 1a group of high-priority candidates. Phase 1a covers a range of “public-facing” health care fields, from home health care workers to environmental sciences personnel to mortuary service providers.

Small groups of people filed into the Bethune Complex to receive the shots, maintaining social distance in the gymnasium. Arriving for their scheduled appointments, recipients checked in and waited six feet apart on one side of the gym. After answering several health screening questions, individuals were given the vaccines — by Moderna and Pfizer, the two formulas that have been approved for emergency use by the FDA.

After receiving the shots, people waited on the other side of the gym for 15 to 30 minutes, to watch for possible side effects — a very rare occurrence, researchers have found. After the brief wait, recipients were free to go.

Thus far, 739 vaccine doses have been administered in Halifax County, with 19 people in the highest-priority group — frontline health care workers — receiving a second round of vaccines. In neighboring Mecklenburg County, 127 health care workers have received the complete, two-round vaccine regimen, and 947 doses have been administered all told.

Pittsylvania County has administered 838 vaccines and 87 people have been fully vaccinated, and the City of Danville has administered 1,592 vaccines and 177 people have been fully vaccinated, according to VDH data.

The health department’s push for more residents comes as the pandemic rages with a frightening intensity in the area. Halifax County’s test positivity rate for the most recent 14-day period has shot up to 25.4 percent, meaning that one in every four persons who is tested for the virus comes back positive for COVID-19. Halifax County’s test positivity rate is one of the highest in Virginia, exceeded only by that in Fairfax City, Richmond County and Washington County.

Halifax’s COVID-19 caseload had risen to 1,775 through Wednesday, an increase of 283 people over the seven-day period from Jan. 14-20. The pandemic is blamed for 47 deaths, five of which have been reported by VDH in the past 14 days.

Last week, the Southside and Pittsylvania-Danville Health Districts announced the roll-out of vaccination clinics for the Phase 1b group — a cohort that includes police, firefighters and public safety personnel, essential workers in manufacturing, food distribution and other fields, teachers and educators, and persons ages 65 and up or those with health conditions that warrant prioritization — and some of these individuals have begun to get their first doses.

Local law enforcement and first responders reported receiving their first round of the COVID-19 vaccine at the end of December.

Halifax County Public Schools and other local government departments have submitted lists of their employees who want to get vaccinated, and the school division has made tentative plans to stage a vaccine clinic at the middle school, with school nurses ready to assist the health department if asked to do so, said Superintendent of Schools Mark Lineburg.

Still unknown, however, is how soon vaccine doses will be available to all who want and need them. A number of states have reported running out of supplies, and the national reserve touted by outgoing Trump Administration Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, turned out to be depleted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that about half of the 31 million doses distributed to the states have been administered so far. Some two million people have completed the required two-dose regimen, less than 1 percent of the nation’s population.

There is a 21-day waiting period to receive the second shot of Pfizer vaccine and a 28-day waiting period to receive the Moderna vaccine.

According to VDH, as of Wednesday 943,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines had been distributed throughout the state and 360,051 shots have been given. On average, 18,700 Virginians are receiving shots daily. VA hospitals have administered 175,978 doses, local health departments have administered 94,278, long-term care facilities 33,441, medical practices administered 23,270, other community health providers 30,147, and pharmacies have administered 2,937.

As of Monday, the COVID-19 vaccine is available for the second phase of residents in Danville/ Pittsylvania County and the Southside Health District which includes Halifax County. For more information on members of phase groups and your eligibility for the vaccine visit

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