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Arlington offering second Covid booster shots for residents 50+

The COVID-19 vaccine (via Arlington County/YouTube)

Arlington County is now offering second COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to eligible residents, following updated CDC guidance.

Late last month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the administering of second booster shots for those who are 50 years  of age and older, immunocompromised, or who received a single shot and booster of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Two days later, on March 30, county vaccine clinics began allowing those residents to schedule appointments as well as accommodating walk-ins to get their second booster shots. This change was first announced in the county’s COVID-19 update newsletter sent that day, though some might have missed the news.

“I was unaware of this until I dropped by Walter Reed for pickleball this morning and saw the line of folks waiting for their booster,” one Arlington resident told ARLnow yesterday.

The county currently has two clinics open for vaccines. Arlington Mill Community Center and Walter Reed Community Center are both providing booster shots Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Walk-ins and appointments for residents 5 to 11 years old are only offered 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

The clinics are closed Sunday and Monday.

As of yesterday (Tuesday) evening, appointments were generally available for this week. Additionally, local pharmacies are offering boosters and availability can be found on vaccine.gov. Last month, locals started getting calls and texts from the Virginia Dept. of Health to remind them to get their first booster shots.

Evidence continues to mount that the effects of the vaccine wane over time and booster shots provide additional protection from Covid infection and serious illness, including hospitalization and death.

However, some scientists remain skeptical about the need for a second booster shot at this time — a fourth shot overall, for some — due to a lack of data. The main data point is an Israeli study that found those who received a second booster were 78% less likely to die from Covid than those who only got three shots. But the study was considered by some to be somewhat flawed.

A total of 177,000 Arlingtonians, or 78% of the county’s population, five years or older are considered “fully vaccinated,” according to the latest county data. However, the number of those who have gotten their first booster shot is lower.

Nearly 97,000 residents, or about 41.5% of the total population, have gotten at least their first booster shot, according to Virginia Dept. of Health statistics. That does exceed nationwide stats, however, with only about 30% of the American population having gotten their booster, according to the New York Times.

Kids under the age of five are still not eligible to get a Covid vaccine, much to the worry of some parents. But that could be changing soon with Moderna likely asking the FDA “in the coming weeks” to authorize its vaccine for kids six years and younger.

Covid cases in Arlington, meanwhile, are slowly rising but still well below this winter’s record levels. The county’s seven-day moving average of daily cases is now 70, up from a seasonal low of 24 one month ago, according to VDH data.

Arlington’s Covid “Community Level” is still considered low, with only 1.2 weekly hospital admissions per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC.

Covid cases in Arlington on 4/6/22 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

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