The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) New River Health District has activated a telephone hotline for questions about COVID-19 vaccine. The hotline is available today for vaccine questions, and for anyone who wishes to pre-register for vaccine under Phase 1b, in addition to those in Phase 1a who may have not yet received the vaccine. The COVID-19 Vaccine Call Center number is 540-838-8222 (VACC). The number is staffed daily.
Residents in Phase 1a (including healthcare workers, emergency medical services personnel and long term care facility residents and staff) and Phase 1b (including other essential workers, residents of homeless shelters, correctional facilities and migrant labor camps and anyone age 75 and up) may call to pre-register to make an appointment for the vaccine.
Phases are described in detail at www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/. Those under age 75, even with serious medical conditions, are not eligible in Phases 1a or 1b, unless they qualify according to their place of work or of residence.
Residents also may register online at www.NRVRoadtoWellness.com. If you are not eligible under Phase 1b please do not pre-register, by phone or online, as that may delay or prevent others from receiving the vaccine.
Pre-registration does not guarantee a vaccine or an appointment. It enables VDH to contact you when vaccine is available. It may be a week or more before an appointment can be made.
Residents may call the hotline any time and may leave a message if they are unable to reach a call center staffer. High call volumes are expected, so please be patient. Please do not leave duplicate messages as that will delay the process for everyone.
“We have had people showing up at the vaccination site who do not have appointments, which causes delays for everybody,” said Noelle Bissell, M.D., director of the New River Health District. “Please do not do this. We are working to vaccinate as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, but we cannot vaccinate those without a specific appointment. We ask our fellow Virginians to honor the process so that we can move quickly.”
The district’s previous hotline number, 540-267-8240, will remain in operation for general questions about COVID-19, especially for questions about testing.
“We are committed to using every available vaccine, and to vaccinate as many Virginians as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Bissell.
As availability of the vaccine increases, Virginia will move to the other phases. Phase 1c will include other essential workers, people age 65 and older, people 16 and older with underlying medical conditions. Those Virginians who do not fall into priority phases will be offered the vaccine when it is more widely available.
Once the vaccine is rolled out to the general public, distribution will be similar to the flu vaccine. People will be able to get the vaccine from a local pharmacy, primary care physician, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)/free clinic, local health department or other clinic that is participating as a COVID-19 Vaccination Program Provider.
In the meantime, it is important to remain vigilant in COVID-19 prevention. Continue to protect yourself and others: cover your mouth and nose with a mask, wash your hands often and well, stay at least six feet away from others, avoid gatherings with anyone who is not a member of your household and get a flu shot.
For more information, visit www.NRVRoadtoWellness.com, www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/ and www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-faq/ or call 540-267-8240.