Reston, VA

Fairfax County has surpassed the halfway mark for COVID-19 vaccinations, as reported cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus continue to decline.

According to Virginia Department of Health data, 51% of Fairfax County’s population — or 585,447 residents — have now gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. That puts the county in line with neighboring jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, including Loudoun (50.4%) and Arlington (51.2%).

After previously trailing by a hair, the county now has now inched past Virginia as a whole in terms of fully vaccinated residents. 35.4% of the county’s population — or 406,383 people — have received all required shots, compared to 35.1% of the state overall.

Virginia has administered at least one dose to more than 4 million people, or 47.1% of its population. 3 million residents have been fully vaccinated.

With more people getting vaccinated, Fairfax County’s COVID-19 caseload continues to shrink.

While the number of new cases ticked back up to 126 cases on Friday (May 7), the Fairfax Health District reported just 22 cases today (Monday), the fewest since 21 cases came in on Sept. 28.

The county is now averaging 63.4 cases over the past seven days, bringing the case rate down to a level not seen since Aug. 1, when the weekly average was at 60.6 cases after hovering in the 50s and 60s throughout July.

The Fairfax Health District has now recorded a total of 77,422 COVID-19 cases, 4,053 hospitalizations, and 1,104 deaths.

While demand for the COVID-19 vaccine has started to ebb, Virginia’s push to achieve herd immunity could get a boost if federal officials approve the vaccine for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15 this week as anticipated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is scheduled to meet on Wednesday (May 12) to discuss recommending that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine be approved for 12 to 15-year-olds, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.

Pfizer reported on March 31 that its vaccine has shown a 100% efficacy rate and “robust antibody responses” in a clinical trial with 2,260 participants between 12 and 15 years old, none of whom contracted COVID-19 after getting vaccinated.

The company says it expects to get authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for the expanded use of its vaccine, which is currently approved for people 16 and older, sometime this week.

The Fairfax County Health Department says vaccine will be ready so that parents and guardians can start making appointments as soon as the federal approval comes in.

“The state and local health departments will let everyone know when the vaccine is approved for use among 12-15-year-olds and our appointment scheduling systems will update accordingly,” the FCHD said in a blog post.

Chart via Virginia Department of Health

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May is only three days old, but the month is already looking good for Fairfax County on the pandemic front.

The Fairfax Health District, which also includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, reported 53 new COVID-19 cases today (Monday) — the fewest since just 33 cases came in on Oct. 7. That brings the county’s seven-day average down to 82.4 new cases, which is the lowest since the weekly average stood at exactly 82 cases on Oct. 21.

However, where the Oct. 21 number was merely a brief dip in what would escalate into the area’s winter surge, this new low for 2021 is part of a decline in new cases that has lasted since April 13, when Fairfax County recorded 231 new cases and averaged 194.4 cases over the past week.

In fact, since dipping from 105.9 cases on April 28 to 98.9 cases on April 29, the county’s weekly average has stayed below 100 cases for almost a full week.

The Fairfax Health District has reported a total of 76,968 cases, 4,022 hospitalizations, and 1,101 deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The downward trend in COVID-19 cases comes as Fairfax County nears a key milestone in its vaccination campaign: almost half of the county’s residents have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the Virginia Department of Health dashboard, which does not include some federally administered doses, 550,553 Fairfax County residents — 48% of the county’s total population — have gotten at least one dose. That is a higher rate than the state as a whole, which has delivered at least one dose to 3.8 million people, or 45.1% of its population.

At the same time, Fairfax County remains a tick behind Virginia overall when it comes to residents being fully vaccinated. 31.3% of the county’s population — or 359,677 residents — is now fully vaccinated, compared to 32% of the state.

Whether Fairfax County can reach that 50% mark for first-dose vaccinations this week remains to be seen.

After finally obtaining enough doses last week to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine, the county health department received fewer supplies from Virginia in its most recent shipments. 43,480 first and second doses came in during the week of April 26 to May 2, compared to 67,590 doses for the preceding week of April 19-25.

While Virginia lifted its pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 23, the Fairfax County Health Department had not yet ordered any additional batches of the one-shot vaccine as of April 30, because the county still had a small supply that it was using for its homebound and long-term care programs, according to FCHD spokesperson Tina Dale.

“We would place orders for J&J vaccine when community providers we redistribute to require more vaccine and to replenish our stock as needed,” Dale said.

FCHD Assistant Public Health Emergency Management Coordinator Colin Brody told Reston Now that the J&J vaccine has been reintroduced in the county primarily through local pharmacies, which get their supplies directly from the federal government through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

The county says it is aware that some people may be reluctant to get the J&J vaccine after its use was temporarily suspended due to reports of a few recipients developing a rare disorder involving blood clots.

“However the data reviewed by scientists at CDC and FDA indicated that J&J is a safe vaccine to use,” Brody said in an emailed statement. “We continue to receive inquiries from residents about where they can go to receive the J&J vaccine, especially because it is a single-dose option that provides immunity within 2 weeks of the first and only dose, as compared to 5 to 6 weeks with Moderna and Pfizer.”

Images via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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Fairfax County now has enough supply to vaccinate whoever wants to be vaccinated, the county health department announced yesterday (April 28).

This comes only a week after the county said there wasn’t enough vaccine to meet the new demand from eligibility expanding into with the move to Phase 2. Several days after that, vaccine appointments on Vaccine Finder still remained hard to come by due to the short supply.

But that has now changed, thanks to an increase in supplies at the state and federal levels, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Reston Now.

Plus, he says, there are now more providers giving vaccines including grocery stores and pharmacies as well as private practices.

A look at Vaccine Finder reveals that grocery stores and pharmacies across the region have more open appointments than they did last week. The Target on Sunset Hills Road in Reston and CVS on Lee Highway in Fairfax, for example, have openings as soon as tomorrow (April 30).

Last week, Fairfax County retail pharmacies received 42,070 vaccine doses as part of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership. The county was allocated 30,552 doses from the partnership this week, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

“However, since pharmacies shift inventory among themselves, the actual number could be different,” the VDH spokesperson told Reston Now.

There’s also a state-run mass vaccination clinic in the county, which opened last week at the former Lord & Taylor in Tysons Corner Center and is now offering walk-in appointments.

“The Tysons Community Vaccination Center has a very large capacity — 3,000 people per day,” McKay said. “Paired with other sites throughout the county, it has certainly increased the capacity to vaccinate more people.”

As of yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), the clinic had administered 11,761 vaccinations since it opened eight days ago. That number was expected to top 12,000 by the end of the day, McKay said.

When visiting the facility around 4 p.m. yesterday, First Lady Pamela Northam noted that about half of Virginians have now received at least one vaccine dose. More than 6 million doses have now been delivered in the state, and close to 30% of residents are fully vaccinated.

The Fairfax County Health Department also continues to operate vaccine clinics at the Fairfax County Government Center and George Mason University. Appointments for those sites can be booked through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

With supply and appointments becoming more available, including a potential resumption of the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the pause was lifted last Friday, it’s possible that the county could meet the May 31 deadline set last month by both state and federal officials of delivering at least one dose of the vaccine to everyone who wants one.

However, McKay again didn’t fully commit to that target date.

“It is certainly our goal to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” he told Reston Now.

In some places across the country, vaccine supply is so far exceeding demand that mass vaccination sites are closing and localities are actually declining more vaccines.

According to McKay, that is not the case in Fairfax County, but supply has at last met demand.

“For many months, our demand was greater than supply,” he said. “Supply is now available at the level required to vaccinate anyone 16+ in Fairfax. That said, now is the time to get vaccinated.”

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Fairfax County is now reporting its lowest seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases since late October.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the county currently has a weekly average of 115.3 new cases after the Fairfax Health District reported 74 COVID-19 cases today (Monday), including one case in the City of Falls Church.

The last time the county had a weekly average of 115.3 cases was Oct. 30, when the pandemic’s winter surge was just starting to set in.

After ticking up in early April, Fairfax County’s COVID-19 case rate has been on a steady decline since hitting 194.4 cases on average over seven days on April 13.

The Fairfax Health District’s testing positivity rate has also been falling in recent days, dipping below 5% on April 20 for the first time since it was at 4.9% on Oct. 26. The district’s seven-day moving average for positive PCR tests was 4.5% as of April 22, the latest date with data reported from the state.

The Fairfax County Health Department acknowledged that there is a discrepancy between the VDH data and the county’s reported case numbers for the Fairfax Health District. The county dashboard says that there were just 59 new cases today.

“Our data team is investigating,” FCHD spokesperson Tina Dale told Reston Now.

The Fairfax Health District, which includes the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax as well as the county, has recorded 76,376 total COVID-19 cases, 3,940 hospitalizations, and 1,095 deaths over the course of the pandemic, according to VDH data.

In addition to seeing signs that community transmission of the novel coronavirus has been diminishing, Fairfax County learned late last week that providers will once again be allowed to administer Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, whose use was halted nationwide on April 13 in response to reports of a few recipients developing rare blood clots.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday (April 23) that the pause should be lifted, saying that the J&J vaccine’s benefits as an effective and generally safe tool for preventing COVID-19 outweigh its known and potential risks.

Virginia State Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said that providers in the state are now free to resume administering the J&J vaccine, effective immediately.

“This extra scrutiny should instill confidence in the system that is in place to guarantee COVID-19 vaccine safety,” Avula said in a statement. “As with any vaccine, we encourage individuals to educate themselves on any potential side effects and to weigh that against the possibility of hospitalization or death from COVID-19.”

The Fairfax County Health Department says it will follow the federal and state guidance and resume offering the J&J vaccine at its vaccination sites, but it’s unclear when doses become available again.

“We will not receive the J&J vaccine this week since orders for vaccine are made the week prior,” Dale said. “I will not know the status on subsequent weeks until our vaccination team has a chance to meet.”

According to its vaccine dashboard, the county received 67,590 first and second vaccine doses from VDH for the week of April 19-25, an increase of more than 10,000 doses from the previous week. Because the county and its partners have primarily been utilizing the Pfizer vaccine, the J&J vaccine pause had a limited impact on vaccine availability and appointments.

Fairfax County providers have now administered more than 811,000 vaccine doses. 512,645 residents have received at least one dose, and 318,705 residents have been fully vaccinated — roughly 27.7% of the county’s total population.

That puts the county’s vaccination rate slightly behind Virginia as a whole, which has fully vaccinated 2.4 million residents, or 28.7% of its population. 3.6 million people — 42.9% of the population – have gotten at least one dose, and the Commonwealth has administered 5.9 million vaccine doses overall.

Images via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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It’s closing on a week since Fairfax County shifted the scheduling and managing of vaccine appointments to Vaccine Finder.

Officials said that the change would give residents more flexibility and choice, but vaccine appointments remain hard to come by in the county, despite the CDC-managed site saying that the vaccine is “in stock” at a number of retail pharmacies in the county.

The county health department published a blog post earlier today (Thursday) that aims to answer a number of questions it has received about obtaining appointments through Vaccine Finder.

According to the post, when vaccines are listed as “in stock,” it means the provider reported vaccines were available at that location within the last 72 hours. However, it does not necessarily mean that there are available appointments.

When following the prompts on Vaccine Finder to check appointment availability, the site takes you to the individual retail pharmacy’s scheduler.

As of 3 p.m. today, CVS, Safeway, and Costco had no available appointments within a 25-mile radius of Fairfax County. Harris Teeter and Giant similarly came up empty, though their systems check only within a 20 and 10-mile radius, respectively.

The county’s blog post says this lack of available appointments is because the “vaccine supply did not increase to meet the demand that the expanded eligibility created.”

In an email to Reston Now, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay notes that there are “over 900,000 people over the age of 18 in the Fairfax Health District and as of Sunday, for those who weren’t already, [they] are all now eligible to be vaccinated.”

Retail pharmacies are primarily receiving their supply from the federal government through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Partnership, but both Virginia and county officials told Reston Now that they’re assisting with allocating doses to pharmacies to “maximize footprint, capacity, and accessibility.”

State health officials said that 42,070 vaccine doses were allocated to Fairfax County retail pharmacies this week as part of the federal partnership.

Virginia’s retail pharmacies received 210,180 doses overall, meaning that Fairfax County’s allocation makes up 20% of that total. About 13.5% of Virginia’s population lives in Fairfax County.

The Commonwealth did not yet have allocation information for next week.

Beyond retail pharmacies, the county also notes that they’re providing vaccines to about 50 healthcare providers to “enable residents to get vaccinated through their primary care doctor or somewhere closer to home.”

In addition, there’s the state-run Community Vaccination Center at Tysons, which just opened yesterday (April 20) and is now listed on Vaccine Finder, as well as a clinic at the Fairfax County Government Center that is listed in the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System.

A new call center system at 703-324-7404 was implemented last week to assist residents with scheduling appointments, but wait times for callers could be long.

McKay declined again to commit Fairfax County to meeting President Joe Biden and Gov. Ralph Northam’s deadline of delivering at least one dose of vaccine to everyone who wants one by May 31.

“While we understand that is the Governor’s deadline and we will work hard to meet that, it will always be dependent on the amount of vaccine delivered to Fairfax,” McKay wrote. “We have high demand and the ability to vaccinate thousands a day and I look forward to continuing to get shots in arms quickly and efficiently.”

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All Fairfax County adults can now get the COVID-19 vaccine — if they’re able to find an appointment.

The Fairfax Health District, including the county, the cities of Falls Church and Fairfax, and the towns of Vienna, Herndon, and Clifton, entered Phase 2 of its vaccination campaign yesterday (Sunday), expanding eligiblity to everyone 16 and older.

As part of the transition, the Fairfax County Health Department closed its registration system and is now directing people to use VaccineFinder to locate providers that they can work with directly to schedule an appointment. The department’s call center is also open for anyone who needs assistance at 703-324-7404.

https://twitter.com/fairfaxcounty/status/1383842985704493066

However, county officials warned that appointments might be difficult to come by initially with supplies falling short of demand. All available appointments at CVS stores in the Fairfax County area, for instance, appear to be fully booked, including in Reston, Herndon, Vienna, and Falls Church.

According to its vaccine data dashboard, the county health department received 55,260 first and second doses for the week of April 12-18, down from more than 65,000 doses the previous week, and that is expected to decline further over the next couple of weeks.

With the county anticipating only 30,000 total doses per week, available supplies are being prioritized for remaining Phase 1 individuals.

As of 10 a.m. today (Monday), the health department has just over 8,000 people left on its waitlist, which stopped taking new registrations at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday (April 17) just before Phase 2 began. The county is currently making appointments for people who registered on April 14 and has registered 436,466 people overall.

A quarter of Virginians have now been fully vaccinated, including 272,533 Fairfax County residents, and nearly 40% have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

While vaccinations have moved forward, Fairfax County’s COVID-19 transmission levels have stayed relatively consistent over the past month. The weekly average has dropped from 194.4 cases on April 13 to 155.7 cases today, but it has remained within that range since mid-March.

The Fairfax Health District recorded 116 new cases today for a total of 75,565 cases over the course of the pandemic, which has hospitalized 3,909 people and killed 1,090 people in the district.

Images via CDC on Unsplash, Virginia Department of Health

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Fairfax County residents will soon book COVID-19 vaccine appointments through Vaccine Finder instead of the county health department, a change that officials say will “allow greater flexibility and choice of where residents receive their vaccine.”

The health department announced last night (April 14) that it will no longer manage or accept appointments through their registration system after Fairfax County moves to Phase 2 on Sunday (April 18).

The county says the new system will lead to greater access, choice, and awareness of vaccine availability as it moves to vaccinating all residents over the age of 16.

“The Open Scheduling process allows easier access to vaccine sites closer to home,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Jeff McKay told Reston Now in an email.

Developed by Boston Children’s Hospital, Vaccine Finder shows available doses from approved vaccine providers across the county, including the health department clinics, pharmacies, hospitals, and some private practices, according to the Fairfax County Health Department’s blog.

Information about the switch will be disseminated in a variety of ways, says county officials, including their blog posts, social media, English and Spanish text alerts, countywide mailers, flyers, news media, and working with the county’s outreach team.

While the Vaccine Finder is not available in other languages, McKay says the county will film videos in “at least 7 different languages” explaining how to use the system. They are also encouraging folks to change their web browser settings to their desired language.

Residents will also be able to contact the county and Virginia Department of Health call centers to get assistance when registering for a vaccination.

Earlier this week, the county implemented a new call center system (703-324-7404) that will assist residents in registering in the new appointment system. However, the county warns that wait times for callers could be long.

Fairfax County residents can also now call the state call center (1-877-829-4682) for help in multiple languages. McKay says this gives residents “an additional resource,” since the state previously routed calls about Fairfax County back to the county’s call center, which is still available to provide help in multiple languages.

The county health department says that it will still schedule appointments for everyone who is registered in their system and on the waitlist (i.e. individuals who were eligible for the vaccine in Phase 1) prior to the system closing at 11:59 p.m. on April 17.

They should expect to be contacted within approximately a week about scheduling their appointments.

As of 3:30 p.m. today, there are 24,059 people on the waitlist. Read More

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The Fairfax County Health Department will stop accepting registrations for the COVID-19 vaccine once eligibility opens up to the general adult population on Sunday (April 18).

According to a blog post published earlier this evening, county residents will instead be directed to Vaccine Finder to find approved providers, including the county health department, pharmacies, hospitals, and private practices. They will then need to schedule appointments directly with the provider.

The county says that its current registration system enabled it to prioritize residents based on the Virginia Department of Health’s established eligibility categories, but this will no longer be necessary when appointments are open to the general population in Phase 2 and the local health department no longer provides the primary commmunity vaccination sites.

“In Phase 2, the larger pool of community vaccination sites allows us to shift to this new process, which will allow greater flexibility and choice of where residents receive their vaccine,” the FCHD says.

Created by Boston Children’s Hospital with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Digital Service, Vaccine Finder allows users to locate clinics, pharmacies, and other sites that are providing COVID-19 vaccinations, but it does not provide appointment scheduling, which must be done through the individual provider.

Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson Jeremy Lasich tells Reston Now that the county will still be responsible for distributing vaccine supplies to its partners, and it will schedule appointments for individuals remaining on its waitlist, which has about 23,000 people left as of 8:30 p.m.

However, the county’s registration system will be retired once everyone on the waitlist has been given an appointment.

“We will continue to manage registrations for those people who are currently on our waitlist for the next week or two after April 18 until they have all received appointments and our waitlist reaches 0,” Lasich said. “We will also still manage vaccination clinics for people who sign up at one of our locations on VaccineFinder, but…we will not manage those registrations.”

Because of the need to finish vaccinating everyone on the waitlist, the health department notes that its clinics and some of its partners may not be listed on Vaccine Finder until late April or early May.

“Everyone who is on our waitlist before it closes at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, will be contacted to schedule appointments within approximately one week,” the department said.

Photo via Fairfax County Health Department

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Morning Notes

Fairfax County Reconfigures COVID-19 Call Center — “The Health Department has implemented a new call center system to better meet the needs of our residents during the upcoming transition to Phase 2 and beyond. As we work to implement this new system, wait times for callers may be longer than expected.” [Fairfax County Health Department]

Virginia Woman Died After Receiving Johnson & Johnson Vaccine — “Virginia health officials say a woman who died a few weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is among six cases nationwide that prompted a pause in use of the one-dose shots. The woman’s death last month had similarities to the blood-clotting problem that halted distribution of the vaccine Tuesday, said Dr. Danny Avula, the state’s vaccination coordinator.” [Inside NoVA]

U.S. Labor Secretary Visits Reston Business — Labor Secretary Marty Walsh held a discussion at Vantage Point Consulting’s Reston office on Friday (April 9) to talk about President Biden’s jobs plan and how it could help recent veterans and others transition back into the workforce. Vantage Point provides career readiness services and is owned by a veteran. [Patch]

Herndon Police Welcomes Support Dog — “Herndon Police Department is proud to announce K9 Bragg has joined the family, serving as HPD’s first certified facility dog. Bragg, a Labrador Retriever, was graciously gifted to HPD from Mutts With A Mission, a 501(c)(3) based in Portsmouth, VA, that specializes in training dogs to serve the needs of first responders, veterans, and wounded warriors.” [Herndon Police/Facebook]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) Fairfax County will not be administering any Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines “until further notice,” following the advice by Virginia and the federal government.

“While this action limits the amount of available vaccine, its impact on the Fairfax Health District is minimal since the Fairfax County Health Department and its partners have primarily been using Pfizer vaccine for the past several months,” the county health department wrote in a blog post.

The county health department says this latest setback does not affect any of its clinics or appointments, and the “small amount” of the J&J vaccine that was being used will be substituted with the other vaccines.

“Fairfax County did not receive any J&J vaccine this week, and we were not expecting any next week. A small amount of J&J vaccine remaining from last week and allocated for this week will be substituted with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to avoid any cancellations at our Health Department sites,” the county said.

They also advise those who did receive the J&J vaccine to contact their health provider if they develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration recommended this morning (Tuesday) that use of the J&J vaccine be paused while they review reports that six recipients, all women, developed a rare disorder involving blood clots after taking the vaccine.

In total, more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine has been administered across the country, and the FDA is classifying the adverse, though dangerous, reactions as “extremely rare.”

The CDC and FDA say their recommendation comes “out of abundance of caution” so that further review and study can be done.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced just before 9 a.m. that Virginia would follow the federal government’s guidance and temporarily pause its use of the J&J vaccine until an investigation is complete.

“This pause is reassuring in that it demonstrates that the systems that are in place to monitor vaccine safety are working,” Virginia Vaccination Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said in a statement. “We look forward to a thorough review by federal health officials.”

Neighboring jurisdictions in the D.C. area, including Arlington, Alexandria, D.C., and counties in Maryland, have all also paused their use of the J&J vaccine.

This is the second snag that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has hit in the past two weeks after a production mess-up at a Baltimore manufacturing plant contaminated as many as 15 million doses.

As a result, many states, including Virginia, have had their vaccine orders significantly cut. Virginia was expected to receive only about one-tenth of the number of doses of the J&J vaccine this coming week than the previous week.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay told Reston Now that the county did not anticipate getting any of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine this week or next week due to that supply shortage.

“The possible side effects of the vaccine are concerning for our national vaccination efforts because they [are] significantly dependent on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine,” McKay said. “At the end of the day however, safety and efficacy is most important and we are lucky we have two great vaccine options still available.

Earlier this month, Fairfax County committed to the same goal as the Commonwealth in having everyone over the age of 16 be eligible for the vaccine starting April 18. However, that was contingent on there being a sufficient supply.

Northam reiterated during a press conference outside Metz Middle School in Manassas, which hosted a vaccination clinic today, that Virginia still hopes that all adults who want to get vaccinated will receive their first dose by the end of May.

“Hopefully, this is just a small setback that we’ll overcome,” Northam said.

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools

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More than one-fifth of Virginia’s population has now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Virginia Department of Health’s vaccine dashboard indicates that 1.8 million residents — or 21.3% of the state’s population — have now received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

That puts the Commonwealth in line with the U.S. as a whole, which has fully vaccinated 21.9% of its population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Virginia is slightly ahead of the country overall when it comes to first-dose vaccinations. According to the VDH, 3.1 million people — or 36.6% of the state’s population — have gotten at least one vaccine dose, compared to 35.9% of the total U.S. population.

Fairfax County, however, seems to be a beat behind the overall state. 223,113 residents have been fully vaccinated, which is about 19% of the county’s total population of 1.1 million people. 402,129 residents have received at least one dose.

Still, the county has been delivering vaccinations at a steadier pace in recent weeks as the availability of supplies has increased.

In the initial weeks of the vaccine rollout, residents had to wait more than a month between when they signed up to get the vaccine and when they could actually schedule an appointment. That gap between registration and scheduling is now closer to a week, based on the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard, which says that the department is currently making appointments for people who registered on April 5.

The county received 65,710 first and second vaccine doses from the state during the week of April 5-11. There are just under 32,000 people on the health department’s waitlist, about 8% of the 418,023 people who have registered so far.

With Fairfax County aiming to join the rest of the state in opening registration for all adults on April 18, the faster pace of vaccinations has been countered by a rise in COVID-19 cases and concerns about variants that are believed to spread more quickly than the original virus.

With 196 new cases reported today (Monday), the Fairfax Health District has now recorded 74,259 total COVID-19 cases, 3,859 hospitalizations, and 1,080 deaths.

The county’s weekly average went up from 150.1 cases over the past seven days on April 5 to 181.4 cases today, and has been generally trending upward since hitting a low for 2021 of 133.6 cases on March 15.

According to CDC data, as of today, Virginia has reported 349 cases of the B.1.1.7. variant that orginated in the United Kingdom and has been associated with an increased risk of severe illness or death. There have also been 37 reported cases involving the B.1.351 variant, which was first detected in South Africa.

There is no evidence yet that the B.1.351 varient causes increased risks of severe illlness or death, but there is a “moderate reduction” in the immune protection offered by a vaccination or natural infection, according to the VDH.

The CDC estimates that the U.K. variant now constitutes about 11.5% of all COVID-19 cases in Virginia, though surveillance efforts to track the variants’ spread have been slow to ramp up.

Image via Virginia Department of Health

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(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) The Fairfax County Health Department has expanded eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all Phase 1c workers, bringing the county one step closer to opening registration up to the general adult population.

Starting today (Wednesday), people who live or work in the Fairfax Health District and are employed in the following industries can sign up for a vaccine appointment through the health department:

  • Barbers, stylists, and hairdressers
  • Finance
  • Information technology and communication
  • Media
  • Legal services
  • Public safety engineers, including emergency communication centers and heavy and civil engineering construction
  • Other public health workers, such as public health program administrators and researchers in physical, engineering, and life sciences

The Fairfax Health District encompasses Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon and Vienna.

Individuals who are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccination can register through the Fairfax County Health Department’s website or by contacting the department’s call center at 703-324-7404.

This latest expansion of eligibility comes just two days after Fairfax County opened vaccine registrations up to an initial group of Phase 1c workers, including food service workers, cleaning and janitorial staff, and faculty and staff at higher education institutions.

“We expect to move into Phase 2 by April 18 in accordance with federal and state goals for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout,” the health department says.

President Joe Biden declared yesterday (Tuesday) that everyone 16 and older will be eligible to register for a COVID-19 vaccine by April 19, ahead of his previous target date of May 1.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on April 1 that all of Virginia will reach Phase 2 — the general adult population — by April 18, though some jurisdictions could advance to that point sooner than others. Fairfax County has said it can meet that deadline as long as it receives a sufficient supply of doses.

According to its vaccine dashboard, the county received 40,950 first and second vaccine doses from the Virginia Department of Health during the week of March 29 to April 4, a step down from the roughly 55,000 doses that came in the previous week.

The Fairfax County Health Department says that it ordered 18,000 fewer doses last week, because some of its partners had unused vaccine that got carried over from the previous week, which can happen on occasion when there is a delay in a partner coming onboard or fewer people come through a particular site than projected.

“The number of vaccinations performed in the health district was not impacted,” the department told Reston Now. “This week, vaccine orders are at normal levels.”

The county health department is currently making appointments for individuals who registered on March 30. There are more than 36,000 people on the waitlist right now, 9% of the 395,096 people who have registered since December.

According to VDH data, 368,665 Fairfax County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 196,304 residents have been fully vaccinated. More than 1.6 million Virginians have now been fully vaccinated — 18.8% of the state’s population.

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The Fairfax Health District has officially opened eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to select groups of essential workers in Phase 1c, the Fairfax County Health Department announced this morning (Monday).

Individuals who can now register for a vaccine appointment include:

  • Food service workers
  • Housing and construction workers
  • Higher education faculty and staff
  • Workers who deal with water, wastewater, and waste removal
  • Workers in transportation and logistics roles, a broad category that ranges from airline pilots and taxi drivers to car mechanics and warehouse or storage employees

This applies to anyone who lives or works in the Fairfax Health District, which encompasses Fairfax County, the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, and the towns of Clifton, Herndon, and Vienna.

Fairfax County’s advancement to Phase 1c comes shortly after Gov. Ralph Northam declared on April 1 that Virginia will reach Phase 2 of its vaccine rollout by April 18, meaning that all residents 16 and older will be able to register to get vaccinated.

“We expect to move into the rest of Phase 1c later this week and move into Phase 2 by April 18 in accordance with federal and state goals for the COVID-19 vaccination rollout,” the Fairfax County Health Department said.

The remaining priority groups in Phase 1c are workers in finance, media, information technology and communications, and legal services as well as public safety engineers and barbers and hairstylists.

While vaccination efforts have been picking up in recent weeks, COVID-19 case levels have remained fairly consistent in Fairfax County and Virginia as a whole since mid-March after a two-month-long decline.

 

The Fairfax Health District reported 127 new cases today, including 123 cases in Fairfax County, one case in the City of Fairfax, and three cases in the City of Falls Church. The district has now recorded 73,175 COVID-19 cases, 3,820 related hospitalizations, and 1,072 deaths.

Fairfax County has averaged 150 new cases per day over the past seven days, a slight dip after the weekly average hovered between 160 and 180 cases throughout the latter half of March.

The plateau in case levels throughout the D.C. region has raised concerns that public health restrictions are being relaxed too quickly, potentially setting the stage for another surge in transmission before vaccines are widespread enough to curb the novel coronavirus’ spread.

According to the Virginia Department of Health dashboard, 355,871 Fairfax County residents have gotten at least one vaccine dose, and 186,701 residents have been fully vaccinated. Statewide, more than 1.5 million people have been fully vaccinated — 18.1% of Virginia’s population.

The Fairfax County Health Department vaccine dashboard indicates that the county received just 12,870 doses for the week of March 29 to April 4, a significant drop from the more than 55,000 doses that came from the state one week earlier.

An FCHD spokesperson says that the county ordered fewer doses last week because some of its partners did not utilize their full supply the previous week. The spokesperson also noted that the dashboard only includes first doses.

“Last week was also a large second dose week,” the spokesperson said. “…With first and second doses, we had a combined 40,950 doses last week.”

The spokesperson added that the dashboard will soon be updated to reflect both first and second dose supplies to provide “a more complete picture” of the county’s weekly inventory.

Graph via Virginia Department of Health

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(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Fairfax County is continuing to partner with Giant to offer COVID-19 vaccinations at eight pharmacies, county health officials say.

Giant Food announced earlier this week that vaccines will be available at all 152 in-store pharmacies in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Previously, the supermarket company was offering vaccines at about half of its in-store pharmacies.

The announcement, however, does not change the ongoing partnership between the county and Giant first established in February, in which Giant uses a portion of its vaccine supply to inoculate individuals on the county’s waitlist, county health officials confirm to Reston Now.

The eight Giant pharmacies working in partnership with the county are using the Pfizer vaccine and include locations in Annandale, Alexandria, Herndon, and Springfield, according to county health officials.

The Fairfax County Health Department’s vaccine dashboard shows that 26,395 people remain on the waitlist, meaning they are eligible, registered, and waiting for an invitation to schedule an appointment. As of noon today, the county is currently making appointments for those who registered on March 25.

Giant’s vaccine supply comes from the federal vaccination program, while the county receives allocations from the Virginia Department of Health.

There are also more than dozen other Giant locations in Fairfax County that are offering the vaccine but not in partnership with the county, which can be obtained going through the store’s appointment scheduler.

A Giant spokesperson tells Reston Now that each in-store pharmacy in the county currently has, on average, 15 to 20 appointments daily. They are using the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines.

Overall, local health departments and retail pharmacies like Giant have administered the most doses by far in Virginia. Pharmacies have administered nearly 880,000 doses, and local health departments have administered about 1.17 million doses.

While Giant notes on its website that those 65 and over will be “prioritized,” all individuals in Phase 1a and Phase 1b are eligible, including first responders, grocery workers, and public transit workers (including rideshare drivers).

Officials needed to maintain continuity of government, clergy, and janitorial staff were also added to Fairfax County’s eligibility list earlier this week.

The county announced yesterday (Thursday) that they will move into Phase 1c next week and plan to expand eligibility to all adults by April 18, per Gov. Ralph Northam’s timeline.

The county health department and its partners have administered 390,740 vaccine doses so far — an increase of 27,000 doses from yesterday and enough for approximately 34% of the county’s population, though the total includes first and second doses.

According to the VDH, 333,353 Fairfax County residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and 170,365 residents have been fully vaccinated.

Photo via Giant Food

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Fairfax County is committing to expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all adults by April 18, as long as there is sufficient supply, county officials tell Reston Now.

This comes on the heels of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s announcement earlier today (April 1) that all individuals in the Commonwealth over the age of 16 should be eligible for the vaccine starting Sunday, April 18.

“I know that our residents are looking forward to getting vaccinated and to be able to again spend time with their loved ones,” Fairfax County Board pf Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a statement to Reston Now. “Fairfax County is ready and prepared to move forward to meet the Governor’s and President Biden’s deadlines. I’m excited that we can continue to open eligibility and vaccinate even more people.”

The April 18 goal is ahead of the May 1 deadline set by President Joe Biden in mid-March for making all American adults eligible for the vaccine.

Governor Northam’s press release notes that this is because the state is making solid progress on delivering the vaccine to currently eligible populations.

“Nearly every Virginian in the highest risk groups who has pre-registered for a vaccination appointment has received one, and those still on the pre-registration list will receive appointment invitations within the next two weeks,” the governor’s office said.

The release also says that nearly 4 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the Commonwealth. More than one in three adults have gotten at least one dose, and one in five are fully vaccinated.

21 out of 35 Virginia’s health districts have also moved to Phase 1c, which encompasses additional essential workers like food servers and construction workers.

After opening eligibility for all people in Phase 1b earlier this week, Fairfax County officials now say that the plan is to move to Phase 1c sometime next week to meet Northam’s target date as well as Biden’s expectation that 90% of adults in the U.S. will be eligible to get vaccinated by April 19.

To meet these goals, Fairfax County plans to open registration for Phase 1c early next week and transition to Phase 2 by the governor’s deadline,” the Fairfax County Health Department said in a newly published blog post.

The health department previously predicted that the county would enter Phase 1c in mid-April.

According to the county dashboard, 363,601 people have been vaccinated by the county health department or one of its partners — a nearly 10% jump from two weeks ago.

That’s approximately 32% of the county’s population, which is slightly lower than the overall percentage of Virginia residents who have been vaccinated based on the governor’s release.

As for when those eligible to register will get appointments and actual shots, that remains to be seen. The health department is currently making appointments for people who registered on March 24 and has gotten its waitlist down to less than 30,000 people.

Earlier in March, Virginia’s Vaccine Coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said that everyone who wants the vaccine should be able to get their first dose by May 31.

However, Fairfax County could not commit to that goal at the time. A health department spokesperson Reston Now on Tuesday that the pace of vaccine administration will depend on “many factors,” including the number of doses that the county gets from the Virginia Department of Health.

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