More than 40 percent of Fairfax County’s population can now receive the COVID-19 vaccine following Gov. Ralph Northam’s expansion of eligibility requirements.
Now, people age 65 and above and people between the ages of 16 and 64 with high-risk medical conditions to a disability can register to receive the vaccine as part of phase 1b. Prior to Northam’s announcement yesterday, these groups were part of the next phase of the vaccine’s administration.
But county officials it may take months to get through phase 1b, which prioritizes people age 75 and above and essential frontline workers like school staff, police, and grocery store workers.
“The availability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available,” the county wrote in a statement yesterday. “The vaccine supply in the U.S. is still very limited and is expected to increase gradually over the next months.“
Although it may take weeks before vaccines are formally administered, the Fairfax County Health Department will begin registering individuals in the newly-eligible group on Jan. 18.
Northam expects all Virginians to be vaccinated by the middle of the summer.
“This means about half of Virginia is now eligible to receive the vaccine. That’s a major logistical effort, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
So far, the state has received 943,000 doses of the vaccine and administered roughly 242,000 doses. On average, the state is administering 12,000 doses daily — far from the governor’s long-term goal of 50,000 doses. Overall, the state is receiving 110,000 doses of the vaccine per week.
Northam is also encouraging schools to reopen, noting that six months of data from schools around the state suggests that school can reopen if appropriate safety protocols are in place. The newly-released guidance creates a five-step program to guide decision making on reopening.
The county plans to launch an online form to register for the vaccine today via its vaccine webpage. Residents should be able to schedule a time themselves based on eligibility, availability of appointments, and vaccine interview, according to Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn.
The health department previously launched a pre-screening form on Monday to allow people to pre-register for the vaccine. Residents can also call the county’s vaccine hotline at 703-324-7404 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. and on weekends between 9;30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The department will contact individuals who complete the pre-screening form depending on vaccine supply and appointment availability.
Demand for the vaccine flooded the county’s call lines on Monday, prompting local elected officials to encourage the county to improve its communications strategy.
Meanwhile, Walgreens is offering rapid antigen testing across select locations in the state. The new partnership with the Virginia Department of Health, which was announced yesterday, allows adults and children age three and above to receive a test. Walgreen’s testing site is located in Centreville at 13926 Lee Highway.
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Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479. It’s that time of year again…