More Virginia residents are now eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine.
Residents age 65 and older can schedule to receive a vaccine, Gov. Ralph Northam announced at a news conference Thursday. Officials expanded state vaccination Phase 1b, which previously included residents age 75 and older. Also new: Anyone who has a chronic health condition is eligible.
“This means about half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccine. That’s a major logistical effort, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” the governor said, citing the need for mass vaccination clinics and the need for more workers to give shots.
Appointment availability will likely vary based on residents' health district, and some areas may not be ready to offer more appointments. Northam said he hopes “everyone in Virginia will be there by the end of the month.”
Virginia is giving vaccines to people in Phase 1a and Phase 1b. Phase 1a is comprised of health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1b is composed of front-line essential workers including police officers and grocery store workers; people age 65 and older; and people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps.
Virginia has distributed about 950,000 vaccine shots but will need about 17 million doses in order to give each person the two shots they need.
Virginia is vaccinating people slower than most states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Virginia ranks 43rd among all states and D.C. for vaccinations per capita as of Thursday. An average of just 2,552 residents per 100,000 residents have received a vaccine.
Northam said, though, that the state is speeding up the pace of vaccinations every day. By “early to mid-summer,” state officials aim for every Virginian who wants the vaccine to have received it.
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Editor's note: This story has been updated with more details on when vaccine appointments may become available across health districts.
Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story.