Navigating COVID-19

The regional health care community joined together to create Operation Vaccinate the Peninsula, a collaboration across local health districts, localities, and health systems. As vaccination on the Peninsula continues, our top priority is to ensure the community is informed about the current supply and can more easily access the vaccine as they become eligible. This regional initiative will result in more expedient vaccine distribution, support for underserved community members, and clearer messaging about new eligibility and availability. Learn more about Operation Vaccinate the Peninsula.

Learn more about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause.

VDH Johnson and Johnson Pause Fact Sheet

Updated as of April 16, 2021

Virginians age 16 and older are eligible to get COVID-19 vaccines. You can schedule yours today with Riverside Health System, even if you've not been a patient with Riverside before.

The Pfizer vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for those ages 16 and 17. Minors will need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when receiving their vaccine.

Use one of the links below to find an appointment that works for you. Or call 757-534-5050.

If you live on the Eastern Shore, please call (757) 442-6600 to schedule your vaccine appointment 

If you don't see an appointment that is convenient for you, check back. We add new appointments as we get new shipments of vaccine. 

We'll bill your insurance for a small fee to help cover costs of giving you the shot. But you won't get a bill, even if you don't have insurance.

Vaccine Supply Information

Riverside is doing everything it can to vaccinate individuals across our community as quickly as possible, and is committed to being fully transparent about managing COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, doses, and appointments. For information about our current vaccine supply, please review our vaccine tracker on our home page

COVID-19 Safety Measures

Even after you receive the vaccine, you may be able to pick up the virus, carry it and give it to others. Please continue to follow state and national safety guidelines. While vaccine distribution is an essential part of our COVID-19 response, it will take many months before a large portion of the population can be vaccinated. Efforts like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, and practicing hand hygiene remain essential to reduce the spread.

Frequently Asked Questions

Updated March 10, 2021

Who is Riverside vaccinating now?
Starting February 10, Riverside Health System will offer COVID-19 vaccine to Riverside Health System patients aged 65 and over who live in Virginia and in active treatment with a Riverside primary care or specialty care provider on or after January 1, 2020. Previously only those patients who had a Riverside primary care provider were eligible. This update extends the eligibility group to all those who are 65 and over and have received specialty care from Riverside since the start of 2020.

Once I am eligible, how do I schedule my vaccine?
We are committed to offering as many vaccination appointments as supply allows. We will notify eligible patients and individuals by MyChart notification, email and/or phone when the opportunity to schedule becomes available. We recommend you sign up for a MyChart account if you do not have one. Please visit here to sign-in or here to sign-up for MyChart.

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept phone calls to schedule COVD-19 vaccinations.
We must keep our phone lines clear for people with urgent and acute medical care needs.

Is Riverside just vaccinating their own patients?
In addition to vaccinating our team members, community health providers, health workers, and patients 65+, we are also supporting community vaccine clinics. Individuals who cannot schedule their COVID-19 vaccine through their health provider should take advantage of opportunities to schedule their vaccine through state and local health district vaccine clinics: Virginia Department of Health (VDH) or call the VDH hotline 877-275-8343. Please visit here for VDH COVID-19 vaccine information by health district.

I am an essential worker in 1b 1c, what do I do?
Individuals who are eligible based on their occupation should first check with their employers to see if vaccine arrangements have already been made. If not, they should contact the local health department in the localities where they work. Please visit here for COVID-19 vaccine information by health district.

What will it cost to get the vaccine?
Initially, the vaccine will be provided free of charge, but there may be a fee for the administration of the vaccine that most insurance providers will cover. As we know more, we will be sharing this information with our patients and the community. As with all types of care, please do not let cost concerns prevent you from getting vaccinated. If you are unsure as to whether you can afford an administration fee, please reach out to us. Our financial team will work with you to evaluate your individual situation to help make sure you can receive the vaccine and the care you need.

Is there a second wave of vaccines coming if I'm not in a priority group?

Yes, vaccines will be administered in four phases, beginning first with frontline healthcare workers and those living in nursing homes and senior living communities. Riverside is currently working with the government as guidelines are being firmed up to finalize who will be included in the next phase. That group will likely be composed of those considered high risk but is currently under review by the Virginia Department of Health. By the final phase, we anticipate that the vaccine will be broadly available to the public. As we know more regarding timing, we will continue to share updates.
Are health systems getting most of the vaccine supply because they have more money or power?
No. Vaccine planning for health systems and independent groups started over four months ago. Riverside developed a very detailed strategy and acted on the strategy even before the vaccine was approved. Our efforts included obtaining ultra-cold storage capability, freeing up space and staff, detailed process maps, and timely registration with the CDC.

There are private groups that have been successful in obtaining vaccine supply. Systems and Independent Groups experiencing challenges in obtaining vaccine may not have registered with the CDC early enough or submitted detailed vaccine administration plans for their patients.

How is Riverside allocating their vaccine supply?
Riverside’s current supply is provided by the health dept and is less than 20% of what we are capable of giving on a weekly basis (about 2,000 first doses vs. 10,000 capability). To date, we have given out 95% of vaccine that has been supplied over the past 6+ weeks.

Is Riverside doing anything to help vaccinate the community?
Yes, Riverside is working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and our local health districts to support community vaccine clinics. Additionally, Riverside continues to hold numerous vaccine events for private healthcare workers, EMT's, paramedics, city, and county essential workers. This includes providing thousands of doses to people outside of Riverside. For example, last weekend we vaccinated 800 teachers on the eastern shore. Over a third of the vaccine, we have given out has been to people not directly related to Riverside.

Why is Riverside only vaccinating their own patients?
This is a common misunderstanding. The first phase of vaccinations included only healthcare workers and first responders in our communities. Our goal is to vaccinate every person who wants to receive the vaccine. Our vaccine administration strategy is based on the supply we have been provided and the guidelines set forth by the Virginia Department of Health and Federal authorities. A few weeks ago, the eligibility group moved to phase 1b and we provided vaccines to our primary care patients 75 years of age and older, followed by primary care patients age 65 and over. We are now opening vaccine appointments to Riverside specialty care patients age 65 years of age and older, who been seen since January 1, 2020 or after. As more and more people become eligible and supplies increase and stabilize, we hope to reach our capacity of 10,000 vaccinations per week. Currently our supply is limited to around 2,000 doses per week. For now, our aim is to administer every dose we receive as quickly as possible. Riverside will continue supporting local health district vaccine clinics so that everyone who wants to receive the vaccine, can receive it.

Can I choose which vaccine I get?
No. While there is currently more than one vaccine brand available, local health departments, healthcare providers, pharmacies, and clinics will likely have only one brand. Vaccine supplies are limited, and you should take whichever COVID-19 vaccine is available to you.

When will the vaccine be available to me?
Riverside is following state and federal guidelines. Detailed information can be located here. The vaccine is being distributed in Virginia based on a phased system created by the CDC and Virginia Department of Health that prioritizes individuals by risk including:

Phase 1a: Healthcare workers and elderly living in congregate living situation
Phase 1b: Frontline Essential Workers, Persons age 65 years and Older, Persons age 16-64 with an underlying medical condition and People Living in Correctional Facilities, Homeless Shelters and Migrant Labor Camps.
Phase 1c: Other essential workers
Phase 2: (anticipated) Other critical workers, adults with moderate risk from COVID-19 disease, those living in other congregate living situations
Phase 3: (anticipated) Children, young adults, and additional professions (to be determined)
Phase 4: (anticipated) General population
Riverside is currently working with the government as guidelines and timing are being firmed up and will continue to update the community on next steps.

What if there aren’t enough doses of the vaccine available?
Per the Virginia Department of Health, because vaccine supply is limited, the COVID-19 vaccines are being provided in phases. This will allow high risk and vulnerable populations to have access to the vaccine first.

Right now, there is not enough supply to vaccinate everyone eligible for Phase 1b at the same time. Governor Northam has instructed local health departments to use half of available vaccines to vaccinate people aged 65 and older. The other half of available vaccines should be used to vaccinate frontline essential workers, people aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions or disabilities, and people in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and migrant labor camps.

In the future, if there is a sufficient amount of vaccine to cover an entire priority group, it will be shipped directly to the designated vaccinators to administer to anyone who wants to be vaccinated.
Will I need more than one dose of the vaccine?
Currently, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, will require two doses. Your vaccine provider will let you know which vaccine you received and help provide a way to remind you to return in the right amount of time so you can receive your second dose. It’s important that you receive the same vaccine for the highest efficacy.

How effective will the vaccine be?
To be approved, the FDA requires at least 50% effectiveness, but the latest data has shown two COVID-19 vaccines to be above 90% in efficacy. This is almost double the flu vaccine annually. Some of the initial vaccines will require a second dose, either 21 or 28 days after the first dose to reach that 90%+ effectiveness. Your provider will share that information with you before administering the vaccine.

How do you know the vaccine is safe?
All vaccines carry minor side effects, but clinical trials along with FDA approval confirms the safety and efficacy. The latest data shows COVID-19 vaccines to be above 90% in efficacy, which is almost double the flu vaccine annually. The safety data has been evaluated by the FDA and was a critical piece of their decision to move forward with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). Additionally, even after the vaccine is administered, the FDA will continue to monitor for any side effects and overall safety for a minimum of two months. That said, Riverside is confident in the safety and efficacy of the upcoming vaccine for our community.

What are the side effects of the vaccine going to be?
Early information on the vaccine has shown minor side effects like the Shingles vaccine, including:

Pain and tenderness at the injection site
Slight fever
Muscle/joint pain
More information will be available as the clinical trials progress and information is presented to the Food and Drug Administration.

If I’ve already tested positive for COVID-19, should I still get the vaccine?
Right now, it’s still unknown how long a person’s immunity after they’ve had COVID-19 lasts so we are recommending getting the vaccine regardless of whether you have previously tested positive. As more information is available, this might change, and we will be sure to communicate any updates to this recommendation.

Are there concerns around the interaction between the flu and COVID-19 vaccines?
The CDC recommends that the COVID-19 vaccine should not be administered within 14 days of any other vaccine. However, Riverside encourages everyone to go ahead and get their flu vaccine until the COVID-19 vaccine becomes broadly available. If you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine now and have recently received another vaccine, please let your healthcare provider know.

Is there anyone who should not get a COVID-19 vaccine? What if I have a chronic condition?

  • The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is not available to children under age 16. The Moderna vaccine is not available to anyone under the age of 18.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination might not be recommended for people with certain health conditions. Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting the vaccine.
  • For individuals that have had a previous severe allergic reaction to any vaccine or injectable medication, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine.
  • For those that have had a severe allergic reaction to food or oral medications, talk with your doctor before getting the vaccine. If you receive the COVID-19 vaccine, you will be monitored for 30 minutes after the vaccine is administered.
  • There are a lot of internet and social media rumors around the vaccine. If in doubt about the vaccine and your specific health condition, please talk with your healthcare provider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy or breastfeeding women; There is very limited data in pregnant women but trials involving pregnant women are due to start in January. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits.
Will I still need to wear a mask after I receive the vaccine?
Yes. While experts learn more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide under real-life conditions, it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to help stop this pandemic, like covering your mouth and nose with a mask, washing hands often, and staying at least 6 feet away from others.

Does the vaccine mean that other safety measures and restrictions can be relaxed or removed?
Please continue to follow state and national safety guidelines. While vaccine distribution is an essential part of our COVID-19 response, it will take many months before a large portion of the population is able to be vaccinated. Efforts like wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and practicing hand hygiene remain essential to reduce the spread.
Vaccine Fast Facts

COVID-19 Vaccine Resources

COVID-19 Vaccine Preparation Update

Moderna vs. Pfizer Vaccine Comparison
Updated as of Jan. 26, 2021

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Click here to read update.

Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine. Click here to read update

In the News

Riverside experts share what they know with local and national media.