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County preps for vaccinations

The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors came out of closed session Tuesday night, Feb. 9, determined to put the county in a better position to expand the rollout of vaccines in the area.

Doug Stanley

Board Chairman and Prospect District Supervisor J. David Emert said the motion, which passed unanimously, was to execute emergency procurement procedures necessary to facilitate the expansion of COVID vaccinations and the dissemination of vaccination public information for Prince Edward County residents.

“Basically, in the coming weeks and months, the county wants to be in position to respond quickly on opportunities that will allow us to expand vaccination rollout for our citizens,” Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley said in a Friday, Feb. 12, interview. “Some of the opportunities could involve upfront costs or the need to secure facilities to be used as a possible vaccination clinic.”

He highlighted an example of a project in Lynchburg that used a former department store building, leased from Liberty University, as a vaccination site.

“As time is sometimes of the essence, the action Tuesday by the board gives authority to the board chair and/or myself, the county administrator, to act on opportunities if needed,” Stanley said. “They also put a line item in the budget of $100,000. The majority of the cost that may be incurred would be 100% reimbursable by (Federal Emergency Management Agency) FEMA, so it’s different than CARES Act funding. That would be FEMA emergency planning money where we have to spend it first, but we get reimbursed.”

He pointed out that there is no regional mass vaccination site close to Farmville.

“You’ve got Lynchburg on one side and Richmond at the raceway on the other on the east side and stuff happening in Charlottesville,” he said. “So I think in the long run, it would be great to be able to do something here in Southside in the center part of Piedmont if we can make it happen.”

He emphasized the frustration everyone is feeling with regard to the slow rollout of the vaccine.

“It’s no fault of any of the local folks, certainly not the local health district,” he said. “The reality is we’re all constrained by the number of vaccination doses available.”

He said the county’s thought is if it was able to get a mass vaccinaton site, allocation of doses to the area would be outside the norm.

“We’re getting about 1,200 doses for seven counties in the health district,” he said. “If you could get an allocation outside of that normal allotment and allow us to start vaccinating people more quickly, it would be a great opportunity.”

Consulting the census, Stanley said Prince Edward has more than 4,000 people in the over-65 age bracket.

“If we’re getting a couple hundred doses a week, do the math — it’ll take you 20 weeks to get it done,” he said. “We need to move faster, somehow, than that. Either the allocation needs to go up or we need to get additional allocation. We need more locations to be able to distribute it.”