Virgiia Department of Health

Virginia Department of Health Announces Launch of QR Codes to Verify COVID-19 Vaccination Status

~ QR codes are secure and private for users, easy for businesses ~

RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Health today announced the addition of QR codes – a type of barcode that can be scanned with smartphones – to Virginia COVID-19 vaccination records.

QR codes – short for “quick response” – are commonly used in retail, logistics, and other sectors. The technology allows anyone to show proof of vaccination with a digital or printed QR code instead of a paper card, and without the need for an app. As more and more employers and businesses respond to calls by President Biden and Governor Northam to require that employees and customers be vaccinated, QR codes will help improve the consistency and security of vaccination information while protecting individual privacy.

A person vaccinated in Virginia can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov to obtain their free vaccination record with QR code, which can then be saved to a phone gallery, printed on paper, or stored in a compatible account.

QR codes contain the same information as paper records, but in a format that offers greater security and efficiency. Because the QR code is digitally signed by the Virginia Department of Health, it cannot be altered or forged. Information from QR codes is only available if and when the individual chooses to share it. Businesses and employers that choose to verify an individual’s vaccination status can scan QR codes with the free SMART Health Verifier App. Individuals do not need to download an app to use QR codes.

Virginia is now the fifth U.S. state to adopt the SMART Health format for QR codes, empowering individuals with trustworthy and verifiable copies of their vaccination records in digital or paper form using open, interoperable standards. The framework and standards were developed by VCI, a coalition of more than 800 public and private organizations – including The Mayo Clinic, Boston Children’s Hospital, Microsoft, MITRE, and The Commons Project Foundation.

QR codes are available to anyone whose vaccination record includes a working phone number and is in the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS). Nearly all doses administered in Virginia are reported to VIIS, including pharmacies, physician offices, health department clinics, federally qualified health centers, and community vaccination centers. Some doses administered outside Virginia to Virginia residents may be in VIIS. Doses administered directly by federal agencies such as the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs are not reported to VIIS. A person whose record cannot be retrieved automatically may call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1) for assistance.

With more than 10.2 million doses of vaccine administered so far in Virginia, more than 58% of the population is fully vaccinated. Everyone 12 or older is eligible to be vaccinated now. To find free vaccines nearby, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.

VDH Expanding Testing Across the Commonwealth

Testing expanded to meet community needs

(RICHMOND, Va) –In response to an increasing number of individuals seeking testing, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is expanding testing events across the Commonwealth. The action comes as cases of COVID-19 are rising, due to the Delta variant, a more contagious variant than the others currently circulating throughout the state.

“While our local health departments, pharmacies and hospitals are working to keep up with the demand for testing, we are providing additional testing locations to accommodate our residents and to help reserve our hospital emergency rooms and rescue squads for medical emergencies,” said Dr. Laurie Forlano, DO, MPH, deputy director, Office of Epidemiology.

VDH has added more than 170 Community Testing Events (CTE) in September throughout the Commonwealth. Additional CTEs will be added based on community need and to reduce increasing stress on healthcare providers.  For a list of all testing locations, visit the VDH website.

VDH recommends that the following people be tested for COVID-19·

  • People with symptoms or signs of COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status.
  • Most people who have had close contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19

o   Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.

o   People who are not fully vaccinated should be tested immediately after an exposure and again at 5-7 days following exposure if the first test is negative

o   People who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered, do not need to get tested after exposure as long as they do not have symptoms.

  • People who participate in activities that are higher risk for COVID-19 exposure (e.g., travel, attending large events where social distancing is not possible, or being in crowded indoor settings)
  • People who have been referred for COVID-19 testing by their healthcare provider or the state/local health department.
  • People who plan to travel or who have recently returned from travel with some exceptions for fully vaccinated people
  • People who are not fully vaccinated and who plan to visit people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19

While vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect individuals, their family and their community, testing remains an important tool to help identify individuals with illness and monitor trends in COVID-19 infection.

For more information about COVID-19 testing call (877) 829-4682, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday.

Virginia Department of Health Announces Significant Increases in Delta Variant in Virginia

(Richmond, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced a significant increase in the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) throughout the Commonwealth. The Delta variant is  dominant nationwide and is the most common variant in Virginia. The Delta variant spreads more than twice as easily as earlier strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.  Eighty percent of infections that occurred during the week ending July 10th that were caused by a variant of concern and reported to VDH were the Delta variant. This is an increase of 45% since the week of June 19th. The more infectious delta variant is contributing to a surge of cases in Virginia.

Currently a subset of COVID-19 positive specimens are available for the specialized testing that is required to see which variant type they are. The Delta variant has been identified in all of Virginia’s five health regions.

“The Delta variant is here in Virginia, and it is hitting our unvaccinated population especially hard,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D, M.A. “We have a very effective tool to stop transmission of COVID-19: vaccination. There is no question that COVID-19 vaccination is saving lives and preventing and reducing illness. I urge everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Do it for your families, your friends, your neighbors, yourself, and join the millions of others who are protected.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), infections in fully vaccinated people, also known as breakthrough infections, happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated. Moreover, when these infections occur among vaccinated people, they tend to be mild. However, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant may be infectious and might spread the virus to others.

COVID-19 variants have emerged and circulated around the world throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in the United States are effective at protecting persons  from circulating variants of the COVID-19 virus. To protect yourself and others, get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

VDH advises Virginians to: 

  • wear a mask in indoor settings even if you are vaccinated,
  • get fully vaccinated, 
  • stay at least six feet from others outside of your household, 
  • avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, 
  • wash your hands often 
  • stay home if you are infected with COVID-19, and
  • stay separate from others and get tested if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19. 

The best way to stop variant strains from developing in the first place is to stop the spread of COVID-19.  Please see the Variants of Concern (VOC) dashboard for more information about all variants of concern identified in Virginia.

Virginia Department of Health Confirms Second Age 0 – 9 Fatality with COVID-19

(RICHMOND, Va.)  — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that a child in the Rappahannock Area Health District died from complications of COVID-19. VDH will disclose no further information about the child to protect privacy and out of respect for the patient’s family. This is the second reported death in a child under 10 years old with COVID-19 in Virginia.

“We extend our condolences to the family of this child in this time of great loss,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A. “Across the country, COVID-19 continues to cause illness and death. The more contagious Delta variant is now the most predominant strain across the country. We urge everyone age 12 and older who is eligible to get vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. We have made so much progress in these past months against this virus, but a tragic event like the death of this young child is a stark reminder that our work continues. Even as many of the restrictions of the past year on gathering and mask-wearing are no longer in place, we urge everyone to take precautions to protect themselves and those around them.”

This death is reflected on the VDH COVID-19 data dashboard for Thursday, July 8, 2021.

To lower the risk of spreading respiratory infections, including COVID-19, VDH offers the following guidance:

  • Anyone age 12 and older is eligible for free COVID-19 vaccine. To find an appointment, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682).
  • All Virginians aged two years and older who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated should wear masks (cloth face coverings) over their nose and mouth in indoor public settings and outdoor settings.
  • Fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.
  • Effective July 1, all students, faculty, staff, and visitors aged 5 years and older (regardless of vaccination status) in public and private K-12 indoor school settings in Virginia, are required to wear masks as per the State Health Commissioner’s Public Health Emergency Order and CDC recommendations. This Order will be effective until July 25, 2021.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to practice social distancing. Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and other individuals.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, get tested.
  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • For more information on COVID-19 in Virginia, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Virginia Department of Health Urges Caution In Advance of Severe Weather

(Richmond, Va.) — Tropical Storm Elsa is expected to impact areas of the state this week. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reminds people to take precautions to be prepared for severe weather and once the sun comes out, be aware of potential health risks before you participate in recreational water activities.

Heavy rains can increase the risk of animal waste and the potential release of inadequately treated wastewater from sewage treatment plants. Bacteria, debris, and other pollutants in rainwater runoff end up in rivers, lakes and streams, which can pose risks to human health and safety. Rain events also cause flooding and fast-moving waters, especially in low-lying areas.

The most common illnesses from contaminated water are gastrointestinal illnesses. This may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. These illnesses result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing microbiological organisms. Additionally, contact with contaminated water has the potential to cause upper respiratory (ear, nose, throat) and skin infections.

VDH recommends the following safety tips for people planning to swim, wade, kayak, canoe or go rafting in Virginia natural waters after heavy rain:

  • Avoid getting water in your mouth. Never swallow water from an untreated water source.
  • Don’t swim if you have broken skin. Bacteria, viruses and other organisms can infect wounds causing more serious illness.
  • Shower with soap and water after recreating in natural waters.
  • Don’t swim when you are ill.
  • Avoid swimming if dead fish are present.
  • Use extreme caution and avoid unnecessary risks if you encounter covered roads or fast-moving waters. The water may be deeper and moving faster than you think.

Residents or facilities that provide water to the public including campgrounds, restaurants, summer camps, or daycares with private wells or septic systems submerged by flood waters should also take extra precautions.

For more information and safety tips regarding private wells and septic systems visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/environmental-health/responding-to-an-emergency-affecting-your-private-well/.

To find the location of local sewer treatment facilities, contact your local public works department.

To contact your local health department, visit http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/local-health-districts/.

For more information regarding recreation water safety tips, including the Virginia Department of Health’s “Safely Enjoy Virginia’s Natural Waters” brochure, visit: www.SwimHealthyVA.com.

First Cases of B.1.427 and B.1.429 COVID-19 Variants Reported in Virginia

(RICHMOND, VA) – The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) today announced the first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 variants B.1.427 and B.1.429 in samples that were collected between December 2020 and February 2021 from Virginia residents. The B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants, which first emerged in California in the summer of 2020, are associated with increased person-to-person transmission of COVID-19. At this time, there is no evidence that infections with these variants cause more severe disease. These two variants were only recently added to CDC’s Variant of Concern list.

The Department of General Services Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS) confirmed the cases using next-generation sequencing analysis, which provides a genetic blueprint of the virus that causes COVID-19. With the identification of these new variant cases, Virginia now has identified a total of 14 cases of the B.1.427 variant, nine cases of the B.1.429 variant, 26 cases of the B.1.351 variant (first identified in South Africa) and 127 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant (first identified in the United Kingdom). With the combined state and national surveillance efforts, it is likely that additional cases with SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern will be identified.

Viruses change all the time, and VDH expects to see new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as disease spreads. As our public health officials closely monitor the emergence of these SARS-CoV-2 variants in our Commonwealth, it is critical that all Virginians comply now with mitigation measures.  Public health recommendations for stopping the spread of COVID-19 will work for all COVID-19 variants. This means wearing masks correctly, staying at least six feet from others, avoiding crowds, washing hands often, getting vaccinated for COVID-19 when it is your turn, and staying home if you are infected with COVID-19 or if you have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 variants, visit the VDH Variants website and the CDC COVID-19 Variants website.

Virginia Launches Central Pre-Registration Website for COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccinate.Virginia.gov’ to go live on Tuesday February 16; Statewide hotline to launch Wednesday

RICHMOND – The Virginia Department of Health today launched a new, centralized website that allows Virginians to easily pre-register for the COVID-19 vaccine. This ‘one-stop-shop’ website allows individuals to pre-register online, check that they are pre-registered, and access additional information on Virginia’s vaccination roll-out.

Virginians who have previously pre-registered through their local health district have been automatically imported into the new system and do not need to pre-register again. Data migration is continuing throughout the week and it may take several days for your name to appear in the centralized system. Everyone who has previously registered is still on the list, and their status will not be affected.

The Virginia Department of Health expects millions of unique visits to the site on Tuesday, and IT teams will be addressing back-end components as needed throughout the day. Anyone who cannot get through immediately should try again.

Recognizing that many Virginians are uncomfortable or unable to pre-register online, the Virginia Department of Health will also launch an accompanying hotline number on Wednesday, February 17. Governor Northam will provide additional information about this hotline, in addition to the new online tools, at a press conference on Wednesday, February 17.

Due to technological limits with CVS Pharmacy’s national appointment system, Virginians must continue to register for CVS appointments through the CVS Pharmacy website. The Fairfax Health Department has opted to maintain their local registration form as one of the few health districts not part of the Virginia state health system. Virginians eligible for vaccination based on living or working in Fairfax County should pre-register for vaccinations on the Fairfax County Health Department website.

Virginia has vaccinated over 12% of the population with at least one dose. Demand for the COVID-19 vaccine currently far outstrips supply, and it is expected to take several months to reach all who want to be vaccinated. Virginia is prioritizing people who qualify for Phase 1B: people age 65 and older; frontline essential workers; those living and working in homeless shelters, correctional facilities, and migrant labor camps; and individuals with high-risk medical conditions.

Virginia lanza el sitio web central de preinscripción para la vacuna COVID-19

Vaccinate.Virginia.gov‘ ahora en vivo; Línea directa estatal que será lanzada el miércoles

(RICHMOND, Va.) – El Departamento de Salud de Virginia lanzó hoy un nuevo sitio web centralizado que permite a los residentes de Virginia preinscribirse fácilmente para la vacuna COVID-19. Este sitio web de “ventanilla única” permite que las personas se preinscriban en línea, verifiquen que estén preinscritas y accedan a información adicional sobre la implementación de la vacunación en Virginia.

Los residentes de Virginia que se han preinscrito previamente a través de su distrito de salud local se han importado automáticamente al nuevo sistema y no necesitan preinscribirse nuevamente. La migración de datos continúa durante la semana y pueden pasar varios días hasta que su nombre aparezca en el sistema centralizado. Todos los que se hayan inscrito anteriormente todavía están en la lista y su estado no se verá afectado.

El Departamento de Salud de Virginia espera millones de visitas particulares al sitio el martes y los equipos de TI abordarán los componentes técnicos según sea necesario a lo largo del día. Cualquier persona que no pueda comunicarse de inmediato debe intentarlo de nuevo.

Reconociendo que muchos residentes de Virginia se sienten incómodos o no pueden preinscribirse en línea, el Departamento de Salud de Virginia también lanzará un número de línea directa asociado el miércoles 17 de febrero. El gobernador Northam proporcionará información adicional sobre esta línea directa, además de las nuevas herramientas en línea, en una conferencia de prensa el miércoles 17 de febrero.

Debido a los límites tecnológicos del sistema nacional de citas de CVS Pharmacy, los residentes de Virginia deben seguir inscribiéndose para las citas de CVS a través del sitio web de CVS Pharmacy. El Departamento de Salud de Fairfax ha optado por mantener su formulario de inscripción local como uno de los pocos distritos de salud que no forma parte del sistema de salud del estado de Virginia. Los residentes de Virginia elegibles para la vacunación según donde viven o trabajan en el condado de Fairfax deben preinscribirse para las vacunas en el sitio web del Departamento de Salud del Condado de Fairfax.

Virginia ha vacunado a más del 12 % de la población con al menos una dosis. La demanda de la vacuna COVID-19 actualmente supera con creces la oferta, y se espera que tarde varios meses en llegar a todos los que deseen vacunarse. Virginia está dando prioridad a las personas que califican para la Fase 1B: personas de 65 años o más; trabajadores esenciales de primera línea; aquellos que viven y trabajan en refugios para personas sin hogar, instalaciones correccionales y campos de trabajadores migrantes; e individuos con condiciones médicas de alto riesgo.

VDH Announces New Contact Tracing Prioritization and Reduced Quarantine Guidelines

Virginia is Following Newly-Issued CDC Guidance

(Richmond, Va.) — Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced because of substantial levels of COVID-19 community transmission, local health departments may need to prioritize  contact tracing efforts for key elements of the population.  During this time of significantly high case volume,  traditional methods of contact tracing are less effective. This means that some local health departments, as necessary, may not be contacting everyone with COVID-19 infection or close contacts to someone with COVID-19 infection.  Per new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), VDH may prioritize follow-up of cases and tracing of close contacts for the following groups:

  • People diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past six days and their household contacts
  • People living or working in or visiting congregate living facilities
  • People involved in known clusters or outbreaks
  • People at increased risk of severe illness

“As cases of COVID-19 increase across the Commonwealth, this change will allow us to deploy resources where they will have the most impact,” said Virginia State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, M.D., M.A.  “We urge residents to continue to follow public health guidance on wearing masks and physical distancing, and to notify their circle of friends and family quickly if diagnosed with COVID-19.  Also, please answer the phone if a VDH Contact Tracer calls.  All these things are helping us in the fight against COVID-19.”

Case investigation and contact tracing are an essential and impactful part of the COVID-19 response in Virginia, and nearly 2,000 public health professionals have been hired since May 2020 in local health departments to do this work.  Although not all cases and not all contacts can be called when the number of cases is high, contact tracing will continue in Virginia in accordance with these new recommendations.  VDH continues to work closely with the CDC and follow federal guidance.

During times like these, everyone must be proactive in following public health recommendations that include:

  • Wear a mask
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash your hands on a regular basis
  • Stay home whenever possible
  • Avoid gatherings outside of your household
  • Download COVIDWISE, the VDH exposure notification app
  • Use the CDC and VDH websites for accurate, reliable, and updated information

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19, you need to stay at home, away from others, and self-isolate for at least ten days.  You should also help identify and notify the people that you had close contact with while you were contagious.  If you have been exposed to COVID-19, you need to stay at home, away from others, self-quarantine, get tested for COVID-19 five-to-seven days after exposure, and watch for any symptoms.

VDH and CDC continue to recommend a quarantine period of 14 days.  However, CDC  guidance now includes two additional options for how long quarantine should last.  The safest option is still to quarantine for 14 days after last exposure.  Any quarantine shorter than 14 days balances reduced burden against a small possibility of spreading the virus.  The two additional options for shortened quarantine are for people without symptoms to end quarantine after day 10 without testing, or after day 7 with a negative PCR or negative antigen test performed on or after day 5.  It is still important to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 until 14 days after exposure and to take other prevention measures including wearing a mask, distancing, and frequent hand washing.

Today, VDH is adopting this revised quarantine guidance for everyone except healthcare workers or healthcare facilities.  CDC’s healthcare-associated infection prevention and control experts are currently reviewing the revised guidance; in the meantime, VDH recommends that healthcare personnel and residents and staff in healthcare facilities continue to use a 14-day quarantine.

Always seek medical care if symptoms worsen or become severe.  Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, or bluish lips or face.

Virginia Department of Health Urges Virginians to Engage with Legitimate Contact Tracers, Avoid Scams

Contact Tracers Will Not Ask for Social Security Numbers or Bank Details

(Richmond, Va.) — The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) encourages all Virginians to respond and engage with legitimate contact tracing calls and emails while remaining vigilant against scams. Caller ID will read “VDH COVID Team.”

The Commonwealth employs contact tracers to notify individuals who have been exposed to known cases of COVID-19. Contact tracers will offer information, encourage individuals to monitor themselves for symptoms, and refer those who develop symptoms for medical evaluation and testing to help contain the spread in Virginia.

Contact tracing saves lives by preventing the spread of COVID-19, so we encourage every Virginian to do their part and answer calls, text messages, or emails from the Commonwealth’s contact tracers.

Recognizing the signs of a scam is important. Contact tracers will not ask for money or information such as a Social Security Number (SSN), bank account details, or credit card numbers.  The Commonwealth does not charge individuals for contact tracing services.

Contact tracers will offer to enroll Virginians in a voluntary contact monitoring platform called Sara Alert, which individuals can use to update local health departments on their health status during the period of time they are participating in public health monitoring. The Sara Alert system is secure and always contacts users from the same phone number or email: 844-957-2721 or notifications@saraalert.org.

In addition to being vigilant, there are several other ways to stay safe from scams:

  • use multi-factor authentication for online accounts;
  • enable auto updates for the operating systems and apps on your electronic devices to ensure you have the latest security;
  • and back up the data on your devices regularly, so you won’t lose valuable information if a device gets malware or ransomware.

Verizon Communications, Inc provided the Caller-ID feature for VDH contact tracers without charge.

Additional information from the Federal Trade Commission on contact tracing scams is available here.

How can You avoid getting COVID-19?

 The Virginia Department of Health recommends that everyone follow everyday prevention practices:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning product.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (sing Happy Birthday), especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol

 

If you do feel ill, please remember that there are many causes of respiratory illness. If you are sick, it is important that you speak with your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your illness and determine if you might need to be tested for the virus that causes COVID-19.

Please be aware that Hospitals and Elder Care Facilities may be restricting visitors to protect at risk populations within their facilities. If you are planning a visit to a hospital or Elder Care Facility (Rehab Facility, Nursing Home, Retiremient Home or Village), please call ahead and ensure that that facility is currently allowing visitors. If you are checking on elderly neighbors, also call ahead to ensure that they are receiving visitrors.

Please visit the Virginia Department of Health's Coronovirus Page for complete and updated information. This information was taken form the FAQ Document on March 12, 2020.

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