FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — Some healthcare providers in Northern Virginia are in a tough spot as they await the arrival of new COVID-19 vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) signed off on a new vaccine last week and mandated that providers dispose of their old stashes.
Dr. Stephanie Puloka, Chief Medical Officer for HealthWorks, a network of nonprofit healthcare clinics across Northern Virginia, said the new vaccine is supposedly more effective against the strain of the virus currently circulating. HealthWorks serves many members of marginalized communities and offers services to Spanish speakers. Many of its patients don’t have health insurance.
“When people want it, we want to be able to provide that service, and so we feel like we’re not able to do our job at protecting the community at this point,” Puloka said.
Patients who haven’t received a vaccine in the past two months are eligible to get the updated booster. While the booster won’t necessarily prevent you from contracting COVID-19, Puloka said inoculation greatly diminishes the likelihood of becoming severely ill.
Michael Onyekwere brought his elderly mother in for a shot on Tuesday but had no luck.
“For her, I want to make sure that she’s up to date on her vaccine records,” Onyekwere said. “I want to protect my mom.”
Puloka said anyone six months or older is eligible to receive a vaccine, and said at-risk groups, such as obese and immunocompromised patients should get one.
The CDC Bridge Access Program will enable HealthWorks to make vaccines widely available throughout the next 18 months. Puloka said patients should find a vaccine location through the program.