Governor Ralph Northam is sending all COVID vaccines through the local health districts, per a report in the Washington Post where stunned senior citizens and at-risk Virginians discovered the move, not by being notified by the Virginia Department of Health, but by reluctant hospitals contacting patients and giving them the bad news.
Tom Bleha and his wife were counting the days until their coronavirus vaccine appointments on Jan. 30, and the promise of a return to what he called “a semi normal life,” but on Friday evening, Virginia Hospital Center cancelled their slots.
Instead of Virginia hospitals — who have been to date relied upon to the point of being blamed by Northam for not acting fast enough — distributing the fragile vaccine, Virginia localities will now be held responsible to distribute the vaccine based on population, thus throwing into turmoil what had been considered a reliable process involving doctors, nurses, refrigeration and logistical planning conducted over weeks.
To date, 424,857 doses have been administered of the over 1 million vaccines received by Virginia — a bottleneck the Northam administration has not seen fit to relieve.
What this has unfortunately accomplished is to add yet another layer of bureaucracy to an already complicated and convoluted process, not to mention raising additional questions as to whether or not local health districts — especially in rural localities — are equipped to handle the special requirements some of the more sensitive vaccines require.
The problem at this rate is that if local health districts have neither the personnel nor the ultra-cold storage to maintain their stores of vaccinations, they will be forced to rely upon hospitals who are already partnering on mass vaccination clinics.
Northam’s spat with Virginia’s hospital system has been simmering for months, as Northam continues to fumble the distribution of already-received vaccines without having a plan in place to distribute them. With months available to plan, Northam seems more willing to fix the blame rather than fix the problem.
UPDATE: Former Speaker Kirk Cox isn’t buying the explanation either.
“Virginia cannot have both a shortage and several hundred thousand vaccines sitting on shelves. Something doesn’t add up. Shockingly, the Governor and Democrats in the General Assembly cannot explain any of this. Confusion, mismanagement, and a total lack of accountability are the only ways to describe what we’re seeing in the Commonwealth right now. They’ve tried claiming it’s a data problem, but the truth is they’re in charge of the data too — so that’s another failure, not an excuse.
UPDATE x2: Fairfax County BOS Chairman Jeffrey McKay is practically livid. This from a statement issued moments ago:
The Virginia Department of Health has announced that they will only receive 105,000 vaccine doses per week from the federal government. For context, last week the Fairfax County Health Department alone received over 22,000 doses from VDH for the 168,000 residents eligible for a vaccine. This is in part due to two changes at the federal and state levels, not the County level. At the federal level, there is a nationwide shortage of COVID-19 vaccine. At the state level, unfortunately they have decided to change distribution to per capita, as opposed to the amounts County’s and hospital’s have ordered. This means, the County will be receiving even less vaccine than we were previously and why, starting tomorrow, Inova will be cancelling all further first dose vaccine appointments.
As always we are ready, willing, and able to vaccinate all of our residents. The above decisions made at the state and federal levels, however will force Fairfax County and Inova to roll back our vaccine operations.
Gambling with people’s lives is a total non-starter. When your largest locality is pushing back, you know there’s a problem.