Virginia’s new COVID-19 dashboard hopes to cut down vaccine hesitancy

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY)- A new COVID-19 dashboard is hoping to cut down on vaccine hesitancy,

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY)- A new COVID-19 dashboard is hoping to cut down on vaccine hesitancy, according to health department officials in the state.

Last week, the Virginia Department of Health launched the dashboard which displays COVID-19 cases based on vaccination status.

“I think the main takeaway for the general public is that it shows if one is vaccinated, how it reduces the chances of getting the virus, hospitalized, or dying from the illness,” said Dr. Parham Jaberi. “Hearing from the community saying ‘Well, I just want to wait.’ I’ve heard so many times in the fall, ‘I just want to wait and see.’ We’re now showing the data.”

Jaberi is the acting health director for the Norfolk and Virginia Beach districts. He is also the chief deputy commissioner for VDH.

He says the data displayed shows just how effective the vaccine is.

“Ninety-nine percent of individuals who have become ill over the last few months haven’t been vaccinated and now we have to turn that tide around,” Jaberi said.

Jaberi says only 1% of COVID-19 cases have occurred in people who are fully vaccinated, which is defined as people who are 14 days out from their Johnson & Johnson shot or 14 days out from their second Pfizer or Moderna shot.

“We have different breakthrough cases in individuals that have been vaccinated with the Delta variant. As you know, that’s a variant of concern we’re watching carefully. We do expect that more and more individuals in Virginia will get that variant,” he said.

 But, it’s important for the public to know the vaccines are effective against all variants, according to Jaberi.

“The most important thing to know is the vaccinations currently available are effective against all the COVID strains. We’re going to continue to track that and see if some strains it works better or not. Right now, that’s what’s in our arsenal. What’s really important right now for people to do is realize the vaccine will be helping with protecting their loved ones and themselves from all strains including the Delta variant,” he said.

Jaberi says besides showing the case numbers, using community ambassadors is another way to cut down on hesitancy.

While demand has dropped off since the spring to get vaccinated, numbers could increase if Pfizer is approved by the FDA and CDC to vaccinate school-aged children in the fall.

“I know that will bring a lot of reassurance to parents who are still somewhat concerned about sending kids back to school settings,” he said.

Getting vaccine rates up is also important in Hampton Roads especially when it comes to emergency preparedness.

“There are so many important benefits of getting vaccinated, I think the context of potential sheltering and being ready for what hurricane season may bring is yet another specific focus and vantage point of what folks in Hampton Roads can connect with,” he said.

To check out the new dashboard, click here.

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