ROANOKE, Va. – The spread of the coronavirus in the Roanoke Valley appears to be slowing down, but vaccine distribution isn’t speeding up any time soon.

“It’s just an extraordinary struggle and we have to do better,” said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the director for both the Roanoke City and Alleghany health districts.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has changed the way it’s allocating doses so local districts can no longer request an amount based on need.

Instead, VDH is simply distributing the shots based on population.

For the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts, that means about 3,000 weekly doses; however, that’s not nearly enough to cover the more than 100,000 people in these districts currently eligible for the vaccine.

These two health districts cover Alleghany, Botetourt, Craig and Roanoke counties, as well as the cities of Covington, Roanoke and Salem.

“It’s going to be months before we can get everybody who wants to get vaccinated, vaccinated,” explained Morrow.

In the meantime, improving communication is something they can work on, which Morrow admits they’re struggling with greatly.

A new registration system that’s not based on the internet is in the works so people can call to book appointments.

VDH will also be deploying strike teams in the coming weeks, targeting higher-risk populations to build trust and make it easier for them to get the vaccine, possibly even bringing it to them at central locations.

“We will not be able to meet the need, the demand that everyone has for this vaccine but we will do our best to get it out as quickly, safely, effectively as we can,” Morrow said.

With the new COVID-19 variant being confirmed in Northern Virginia, Morrow said we can expect it in Southwest Virginia soon.

She said it should serve as a reminder for everyone to continue strategies like masking and social distancing, even if you’ve been vaccinated.

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