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            The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) released a guideline defining ‘Clergy/ Faith Leaders’ as Frontline Essential Workers on Feb. 23, 2021. With the new guideline, clergy are available to schedule a vaccination appointment as phase 1b. However, the document doesn’t clarify if church staff members are included in this categorization.

            According to the guideline, VDH COVID-19 Phase 1 in Depth, the church is to use ‘The Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID19 Response, provided by Homeland security “to better understand certain types of workers” (VDH COVID-19 Phase in Depth).

The guideline provided by Homeland Security, under section ‘OTHER COMMUNITY- OR GOVERNMENT-BASED OPERATIONS AND ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS,’ states that “Clergy and other essential support for houses of worship” are to be recognized as Essential Workers. Therefore, the conference believes church staff is included in Phase 1b as “essential support for houses of worship.”

The Virginia Annual Conference verified with VDH, which is consistent with the guidelines, and encourages clergy and church staff to schedule vaccinations under the following guidelines.

The following subcategories are eligible under the current Phase 1b Faith Leader priority group:

  • Clergy/Faith- based leaders with front-facing roles;
  • Volunteers with pastoral front-facing roles;
  • Church/ House of Worship Staff who support the first two categories and CANNOT/unable to telework.

The following category will be eligible under Phase 1C:

  • Church/ House of Worship Staff who support the first two categories and able to TELEWORK

If eligible, please direct your staff to complete the pre-registration form. If they have already completed the statewide pre-registration form, they can update their record to include the Faith priority group. For more information on the statewide vaccination efforts and eligibility, please visit https://vaccinate.virginia.gov/.

This brings the people of the Virginia Conference  one step forward to safely worshiping the Lord together.