Sagal Ahmed, Contributing Writer
VCU and VCU Health are working to schedule on-campus vaccine appointments for eligible community members as the vaccine supply increases and more people become eligible.
Virginia is currently shifting to phases 1b and 1c in distributing COVID-19 vaccines. This means those who are eligible for the vaccine are:
- Healthcare professionals
- Residents of long-term care facilities
- Frontline essential workers
- People who are 65 and older
- Those who are 16 to 64 years old with a health condition such as cancer, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, asthma, down syndrome and heart conditions
- Those living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps
- Other essential workers like those in housing and construction services, food service and higher education
It is likely that all health districts will be in phase 1c by mid-April based on vaccine supply, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The City of Richmond, including VCU Health, is currently in phase 1b of distribution. VCU Health plans to prioritize on-campus employees before other employees eligible for phase 1c in April.
Virginians are encouraged to preregister for a vaccination through the VDH website. The website includes a database to check if preregistration has been completed in the past and to update registration information. Once preregistered, Virginians are placed on the waiting list to receive a COVID-19 vaccination upon contact from the department through phone, email or text. A reference code is sent to those who preregister that can be used to confirm the preregistration and update info if necessary.
VCU Health is also directly contacting those who are eligible for the vaccine to make their appointments through either phone calls or text. They will be vaccinating those who fall under the phase 1b category, as well as continuing to vaccinate patients who are 65 and older that have been eligible since Jan. 15.
Those who are getting vaccinated through the Virginia preregistration form will have the options to do so at these locations in Richmond:
- Richmond Raceway
- Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center
- Celebration Church
In addition to various mass vaccination centers, vaccines are available at supermarkets and drugstores in the area. These include CVS Pharmacy, Kroger, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart and Publix. Visit vaccinefinder.org to find more places that have the vaccine available in your area.
Locations for vaccine appointments are determined by clinics who send out invitations to those in their area, based on the VDH preregistration list. For larger clinics, such as state-run community vaccination centers, VDH looks at a larger geographic area to determine locations for vaccine appointments, according to Department of General Services spokesperson Dena Potter.
For those who have a vaccine appointment and are having trouble finding a way to get to the appointment, there are three ways to get to appointments for free in Richmond.
Rides on GRTC buses have been free since March 19, and some vaccine clinics are located on GRTC bus routes. Call 804-358-4782 to plan a trip using GRTC buses and get information about bus routes and times for vaccine appointments.
The CARE van is for those who qualify for CARE services under the Americans with Disabilities Act. CARE provides its services in all of Henrico County and Richmond City
as well as a small part in Chesterfield County. Vaccine clinics that are located in current CARE service areas are also giving access to vaccine appointments at their locations. Call 804-782-2273 to use the CARE van.
UZURV is GRTC’s partner that is providing on-demand transportation and door-to-door assistance, offering passengers rides to and from their vaccine appointments. Call the Richmond Health District at 804-205-3501 to use the service.