(Update at 8:05 pm) The Arlington County Board will vote on Saturday to expand the partnership with Virginia Hospital Center for administering COVID-19 vaccines to the public.
The memorandum of understanding lays out how VHC would manage the online appointment system, operate vaccination clinics, bill insurance, and provide individuals with their proof of vaccination, on behalf of the county.
In turn, Arlington County agrees to order the vaccine from the state at VHC’s request, provide adequate location and space for the clinics, and manage a call center for those unable to make an appointment online.
The agreement would be retroactive to January 13.
County Manager Mark Schwartz recommends the approval and ratification of this agreement, which would also allow him to decide the location of such clinics and make similar agreements “with other entities for provision of space for pop-up vaccination events, consistent with the terms of the template MOU.”
While this agreement does not specify the locations of the clinics, community centers, school auditoriums, and pharmacies have all been discussed as possibilities. The Pentagon parking lot, however, likely will not be the site of a county vaccination clinic, according to Arlington’s health director.
VHC and the county announced a partnership agreement earlier this month for a vaccination clinic for residents over the age of 75.
However, as of Thursday (Jan. 21), VHC has closed scheduling for vaccinations. Today, the hospital posted the following update.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced that going forward, disbursements of vaccines will go only to local health districts. Hospitals in Virginia will no longer receive vaccines directly from VDH.
As a result of this change, Virginia Hospital Center must cancel all future first dose appointments at our community vaccine clinics, including the Walter Reed Community Clinic and the VHC Physician Group clinic beginning with appointments that are scheduled for Jan. 26, 2021 and thereafter.
This change does not affect those receiving a second dose. If you already received your first dose at the VHC Physician Group or a VHC-run community vaccine clinic, you will still receive your second dose at the same location on your originally scheduled date and time.
The agreement that will be voted on will cover the over 75 vaccine clinic and other existing efforts, as well as additional clinics and administration tasks going forward, according to Ryan Hudson, the acting public information officer for the Arlington County Public Health Division.
“Arlington County is prepared to ramp up and expedite appointments as soon as the County receives additional doses from Virginia,” he wrote in an email to ARLnow.
Arlington County has faced criticism in recent days for the slow rollout of vaccines and an appointment system not working as promised. County officials have also previously said that all the necessary tasks needed to vaccinate Arlington residents would put a huge administrative burden on staff.
A constant refrain from County officials is that the Virginia Health Department is not providing enough vaccine doses to the county, which is slowing efforts. Other Northern Virginia localities have expressed similar complaints about a lack of vaccine supply from the Commonwealth.
The pace of vaccinations in Arlington has been quickening, nonetheless.
The current seven-day moving average of vaccine doses administered in Arlington is currently 545 per day, according to an ARLnow analysis of state health department data. As of Friday morning, a total of 8,385 doses have been administered and 735 people have been fully vaccinated, with two doses about one month apart.
Coronavirus cases in Arlington, meanwhile, have slowed after peaking ten days ago. The current seven-day moving average of new COVID cases in the county is 83 cases per day, down from 123 cases per day on Jan. 12.
A total of 26 COVID-related hospitalizations and nine deaths have been reported over the past week.
Screenshot from VHC video