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By mid-April, all over 16 eligible for vaccine in Virginia

Anyone 16 and up will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine beginning April 18, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

He made the announcement as the state moves toward the end of its Phase 1 waiting list and ahead of a May 1 nationwide goal set by President Joe Biden.

“The COVID-19 vaccinee is the light at the end of the tunnel — and that light is getting brighter every day as more and more Virginians get vaccinated,” Northam said in a statement. “We continue to work with diverse providers and community partners across the Commonwealth to distribute vaccines in a fair and equitable way and ensure those at the highest level are vaccinated first.”

This also comes ahead of a mass vaccination clinic set to begin in Suffolk sometime during the week of April 4 for those in Phase 1B, as the Western Tidewater Health District has not yet expanded to take people yet in Phase 1C, though 21 of 35 health districts in the state, including Chesapeake, have started vaccinating essential workers in that phase.

“Expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to put this pandemic behind us, and I think all of the public health staff, health care workers, vaccinators, and volunteers who have helped make this possible.”

Northam said nearly every state resident in the highest-risk groups who have pre-registered for the vaccine has received one, and those still on the pre-registration list would receive appointment invitations in the next two weeks.

More than 3.85 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state through March 31, according to the Virginia Department of Health — meaning more than 33% of all adults in the state have received at least one dose, and 20% of the state’s adults have been fully vaccinated. Virginia is averaging 66,882 doses administered daily.

Across the Western Tidewater Health District, 62,805 doses have been administered, with 42,019 people having received at least one dose and 21,205 people being fully vaccinated.

Starting April 4, districts that have worked through all their pre-registered people in Phase 1C can invite pre-registered members of the general public. Based on projected vaccine supply, every health district in the state will have enough vaccine doses to open appointments to the general public by April 18. People in high-risk groups will continue to receive scheduling priority for the vaccine.

The state acknowledged its slower pace at opening up vaccinations to the general public than other states by noting its size and diversity, as well as the number of out-of-state commuters and higher percentage of its population who want to be vaccinated.

To pre-register, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users can call 711).