Press Club

Vaccinations Numbers Rise Amid Long Lines at County Facility

(Updated at 11 a.m.) COVID-19 vaccinations have reached a new peak in Arlington, but the effort has led to lines at one county vaccination site.

Nearly 5,000 doses have been administered in Arlington over the past four days, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The seven-day trailing average of doses administered is now just shy of 900 per day, a new record for the county.

In all, 20,675 doses have been administered, and 4,495 people have been fully vaccinated in Arlington, according to VDH data. The latter represents about 2% of the county’s population.

On Friday and Saturday, those eligible to be vaccinated under Virginia’s Phase 1b group — many of them elderly — flocked to the Arlington County Dept. of Human Services building at Sequoia Plaza (2110 Washington Blvd) to receive their vaccination shots. That led to some reports of crowding.

“Waiting in an outrageous line with my 80 year father to get his COVID vaccine,” one tipster told ARLnow on Friday. “His appointment was for 1:45 p.m. — and the 1:30 group [is] still wrapped around the parking lot. These are ELDERLY PEOPLE standing around for 30+ minutes… maybe 2 or 3 chairs among the entire group. Unacceptable.”

On Saturday morning, the crowding apparently was such that Arlington Transit buses were rerouted in order to avoid the area.

Cara O’Donnell, spokeswoman for the county’s health division, said the lines were the result of a full vaccination schedule, people showing up early to their appointments, the need for social distancing, and other factors.

“It’s taking us a bit longer to process all of our clients today, as it’s a full schedule,” O’Donnell told ARLnow on Saturday. “Quite a few require additional assistance and we’re careful to ensure we take the time we need with each client. From what I’m hearing, that’s leading to some car backups. Our staff and volunteers are working to get through as efficiently as we can.”

Arlington County is getting 2,750 first vaccine doses per week from the state, O’Donnell said. Many of the other doses being reported by VDH are second doses. Virginia Hospital Center and other hospitals are no longer receiving first doses from the Commonwealth, but hospitals still have second doses on hand.

“VHC has been very intentional in managing our existing vaccine supply to ensure that all individuals who received a first dose through VHC will receive their second,” a hospital spokesperson told ARLnow on Friday. “The Hospital is continuing to provide second doses to individuals at our community vaccine clinic, to Arlington Free Clinic patients, and to those staff and healthcare workers who received their first dose at Virginia Hospital Center.”

In all, about 2,000 of the doses administered in Arlington over the past four days have been second doses. There are more awaiting eager arms: Arlington has received 32,825 doses, according to the state health department, meaning 12,150 doses have yet to be administered.

“Available data from scientific studies of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continue to support the use of two doses of each authorized vaccine at specified intervals,” the hospital spokesperson said. “The use of one dose administration is not supported by adequate scientific evidence at this time.”

The quickened pace of vaccinations comes amid a backdrop of Arlington’s coronavirus caseload remaining in the 400-600 cases per week range.

Just under 500 new cases have been reported over the past week, bringing the cumulative total of confirmed cases in Arlington to 12,262 as of Monday morning. Six additional deaths and 13 hospitalizations have been reported over the past week, bringing the county’s pandemic total to 207 deaths and 742 hospitalizations.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, has been declining over the past couple of weeks and currently stands at 6.1%.

While vaccine supply remains constrained, some health experts are encouraging officials to start planning for an abundance of vaccine supply in the spring, as tens of millions of additional doses become available.

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