After hitting 70% milestone, Fairfax County officials are still working to get more vaccinated

The state opened up a mass vaccine center in the old Lord and Taylor store in Tyson’s Corner Center mall, where up to 3,000 people a day can get vaccinated against Covid-19 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

While a large percentage of Fairfax County residents have received their COVID-19 vaccine, there are still ongoing efforts to help — and convince — those who have not yet gotten the vaccine.

Nearly three quarters — 73.7% to be exact — of all Fairfax County Health District residents over the age of 18 have had at least their first shot, which is actually above Virginia as a whole.

About 65% of residents are considered fully vaccinated, meaning at least two weeks have passed since they received their final shot.

However, those statistics do not take in account those who got their vaccine through federal sources, such as the defense and veterans’ affairs departments, notes Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

“We remain committed to making vaccine as easily as possible to obtain for those in our community who want it,” he wrote in a statement.

While the days of supply scarcity long gone, some people still remain reluctant or hesitant to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons.

About 7.5% of county residents answered that they were “unsure,” “probably not,” or “definitely not” going to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a federal survey distributed in late May and early June.

To help address hesitancy, public officials and businesses have developed several incentive programs, like free baseball tickets and Krispy Kreme donuts, though Virginia is not offering cash or lottery incentives like other states.

Now that a majority of county residents are vaccinated overall, McKay says the county’s goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of adults in every neighborhood, and it has turned to a variety of methods, from a regional, multimedia awareness campaign to partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits, in its effort to hit that target.

“Community partners continue to offer up space for vaccination clinic sites, with community leaders urging the importance of getting vaccinated,” McKay said. “I have always said that we would only get through the COVID-19 pandemic together and am proud that our Fairfax County community continues to get us closer to that goal.”

For many residents, getting vaccinated is more a question of access than desire.

In recent months, the county and state health departments have set up several community vaccine centers, including one in an abandoned Lord & Taylor, and equity clinics. The county is even offering free transportation to some via the Fairfax Connector. Fairfax County Public Schools also hosted a series of vaccine clinics over several weeks.

Child care can be another barrier to access, so a number of companies are offering free child care to those getting the vaccine or recovering from it.

In total, the Fairfax County Health Department says it has held 307 vaccine equity clinics since February with an additional 23 clinics scheduled for the remainder of this month.

Mobile clinics are also still occuring and ongoing in partnership with George Mason University’s Mason and Partners mobile vaccination unit.

However, some clinics and access points are shutting down in the coming weeks as the vaccine becomes more widely available. For example, the Tysons mass vaccination site is slated to close on Saturday (June 26) and the FCPS clinics ended on June 10.

“Our outreach team and community health workers continue to work with community partners to provide vaccine education, identify potential vaccination clinic sites and help residents navigate the vaccination process,” an FCHD official wrote. “While the Tysons Community Vaccination Center is closing June 26, the Government Center remains open and will continue to offer walk-in service.”

The spokesperson also highlighted that vaccine supplies remain high and available through a number of expanding options, including private health care providers, pharmacies, and grocery stores.

Of course, getting the remaining portion of the population vaccinated isn’t only a county challenge, but a nationwide one as well.

Just today (Tuesday), U.S. officials admitted that the country is not going to hit the White House-stated goal of at least 70% of American adults having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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