(Updated 4 p.m.) Officials with Arlington County Public Health Division say they are not wasting coronavirus vaccine doses, but they also do not condone people getting vaccinated out of turn.
During a COVID-19 work session on Tuesday, County Board members told health division staff that their constituents frequently express concerns about line-jumping by those who do not currently qualify for vaccinations under Virginia Dept. of Health’s Phase 1b guidelines.
“Everyone knows someone who isn’t in the 75-plus category or the personnel identified yet but got vaccinated because their eye doctor, brother or psychiatrist,” Board member Katie Cristol said, listing the kinds of connections that people are allegedly using.
Arlington County Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese acknowledged those fears but said that, amid everything else that’s going on, officials do not have the capacity to verify these claims. Staff members do remove people from vaccine appointments if they notice something unusual, he said.
“I have to believe that Americans as a whole and residents in Arlington are going to be truthful and not line-jump,” Varghese said. “I know people are going to say ‘you’re being naive,’ but we don’t chip people and we don’t have a national health system that we can track people. The vast majority of people have done the right thing, and because of what we’re doing in Arlington, we don’t have the conditions where I think line-jumping is going to be as likely as other places.”
Meanwhile, total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county have reached 11,867, with 61 new cases and three new hospitalizations as of this morning (Wednesday). The seven-day trailing average of new cases has fallen over the past few days, and currently stands at about 65 cases per day, after peaking at nearly 125 daily cases three weeks ago.
“This [wave] has doubled, if not more than doubled, what we’ve been seeing in the past,” Varghese said.
Last week, Jan. 24-30, about 6,500 tests turned up 482 positive results, said Aaron Miller, the county’s emergency management director. The test positivity rate remains at 7.5%, which is high compared to most of the pandemic, he said.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, Arlington County has received 26,725 vaccine doses. The newest shipment of 2,700 doses came Monday, for a total of 9,775 doses to the health division, compared to the 16,675 total doses that have gone to Virginia Hospital Center, County Manager Mark Schwartz said. He added the online dashboard might be off by about 200 doses.
The county is also starting to prepare for a new distribution method: Yesterday, the federal government announced it will start sending vaccines to select pharmacies next week.
“Now our job is to go back to the state and figure out what it means for the state and for Arlington,” Miller said.
Varghese also refuted the claim of wasted doses. Last week’s use rate — shown in the graphic below — was so close to 100% that it “pushed the envelope,” he said. Currently, he tries to reserve 10% for the start of the next week, as new shipments come either on Monday or Tuesday.
He said if vaccines are close to expiring, the county picks groups lower down the 1B prioritization list to vaccinate. That way, the county does not encourage loitering outside the clinic at 2100 Washington Blvd. or near grocery stores for chance doses, which “creates other problems,” he said.
(The 1b group includes “Persons aged 75 and older; Police, Fire, and Hazmat; Corrections and homeless shelter workers; Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff; Food and Agriculture (including Veterinarians); Manufacturing; Grocery store workers; Public transit workers; Mail carriers (USPS and private); Officials needed to maintain continuity of government.”)
Meanwhile, staff members have scheduled around 1,900 appointments for those 75 and older who had their VHC appointments canceled. Of the 3,200 people in this category, about 3,000 have been contacted. They are also contacting people 75 and older who were not in the hospital’s system.
This is the only group for whom the county is rescheduling appointments at this time, Varghese said.
Those who are 65 to 74 years old or 18 to 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions should pre-register with the county, regardless of whether they had appointments with VHC.
Once people arrive at the county’s clinic, at the Sequoia Plaza office complex near Route 50 and Washington Blvd, they are greeted by a team of volunteers and nurses. According to a behind-the-scenes video from the county, between 50% and 75% of the staff manning the vaccine clinics are volunteers.
“I know there are frustrating things going on across the country and even in Arlington, but I promise once you get here you’ll have a great experience, and you’ll help end the pandemic just by getting a vaccine,” said Dallas Smith, the site director for the Arlington County Vaccination Pod, in the video.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village