Fairfax County opens COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all “Phase 1b” groups

(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Everyone who lives or works in the Fairfax Health District and falls under a phase 1b category can now register for an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

The Fairfax County Health Department announced this morning (Tuesday) that, starting today, it is opening eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to essential government workers, clergy and faith leaders, and janitorial and cleaning staff — the last three priority groups in phase 1b of Virginia’s vaccine rollout.

Approximately half of the Fairfax Health District’s population — which includes the county, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Herndon, Vienna, and Clifton — is now eligible to register for the vaccine, according to Fairfax County Director of Epidemiology and Population Health Dr. Benjamin Schwartz.

“We anticipate those who’ve registered today will get an appointment in a few weeks,” FCHD spokesperson Tina Dale told Reston Now.

This is the third time Fairfax County has expanded eligibility for vaccine appointments this month, a pace that the health department says reflects a growing supply of vaccine doses.

The county received 55,470 doses from the Virginia Department of Health during the week of March 22-28. Its weekly shipments have been increasing by more than 10,000 doses per week over the past couple of weeks.

“We are moving through our current waitlist at a faster pace,” FCHD said in its blog post. “We expect to move into Phase 1c by mid-April and move into Phase 2 by May 1 in accordance with VDH guidance.”

Phase 1c covers remaining essential workers, including food service workers, housing and construction workers, water and waste removal workers, and media. Reaching phase 2 by May 1 would mean making vaccine appointments available to all adults, a stated goal of Gov. Ralph Northam and President Joe Biden.

Fairfax County remains cautious about committing to a timeline for when all adults will actually get at least one vaccine dose. Virginia’s vaccine coordinator, Dr. Danny Avula, has suggested that everyone who wants to get vaccinated could receive their first dose by May 31.

“We continue to add more county vaccination partners and continue to receive more doses of vaccine,” Dale said. “But whether or not everyone will have their first dose by May 31 is dependent on many factors.”

In addition to advocating for more doses, Fairfax County has been working to expand its capacity to administer the vaccines. Inova opened a mass vaccination site in Alexandria yesterday (Monday) that could accommodate at least 6,000 people per day.

According to the FCHD vaccine dashboard, which updates roughly every hour, Fairfax County is now making appointments for people who registered on March 16, when 4,412 individuals signed up. There are currently about 40,000 people on the waitlist, 11% of the 355,438 people that have registered for an appointment through the health department.

Newly eligible individuals can register to get vaccinated in Fairfax County, which is still operating its own registration system separate from the state, by filling out the health department’s online questionnaire or contacting its call center at 703-324-7404.

More than 300,000 people in Fairfax County have now gotten at least one dose of vaccine. According to VDH data, providers in the county have administered at least one dose to 309,338 people and fully vaccinated 158,541 people.

3.7 million total vaccine doses have been administered in Virginia, and 1.3 million people have been fully vaccinated — 15.5% of the state’s total population.

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