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County pauses shots while waiting for updated boosters from the state

Vaccine dose being given at an Arlington County vaccination clinic (via Arlington County/YouTube)

With updated Covid boosters now approved, the county has paused providing shots to adults as it waits for its supply from the state.

As of this past Friday, Sept. 3, Arlington County Public Health Division is “unable to offer booster dose appointments for Pfizer or Moderna vaccines” per the county’s website.

This is because “the currently available mRNA vaccines are no longer authorized for booster doses for people ages 12 years and older.”

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of updated Covid booster shots that are specifically formulated to better protect against the omicron variant. Also in accordance with the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation to use these “bivalent vaccines,” the county has stopped administering the older vaccines.

However, Arlington has yet to receive the newer, updated vaccines from the state.

“We are waiting on the supply we pre-ordered through the Virginia Department of Health,” Arlington health department spokesperson Sondra Dietz wrote ARLnow via email.

She said residents will not be able to schedule vaccine appointments until that happens.

“We will update appointment scheduling in VAMS when we have received the two vaccine boosters,” Dietz said. “In the meantime, please check vaccines.gov to search for appointments in and around Arlington, which includes pharmacies and other medical providers.”

There’s no “definitive timeline” on when updated boosters will be received by the county from VDH. However, there are other locations in Arlington that are currently offering the updated boosters with more on the way in the coming days.

All 153 Giant Food pharmacies in Virginia, Maryland, D.C., and Delaware are now administrating the updated Pfizer vaccine as a single booster dose, a company spokesperson told ARLnow yesterday. That’s available for anyone 12 years or older and two months out from receiving their last booster dose or initial series of vaccines.

“Select” Giant Food pharmacies are also administrating the updated Moderna vaccine for those 18 years and older. Giant is no longer providing the previous mRNA vaccines to those 12 years or older.

Safeway pharmacies in Arlington are planning to have the updated boosters by the end of the week, per a spokesperson.

While adults can no longer receive the previous iteration of the vaccines as boosters, they are still available for children. Earlier this summer, the federal government approved the vaccine for children and recommended that kids as young as 6 months old could get it.

The county is continuing to administer the previous Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to that age range by appointment only at the Arlington Mill and Walter Reed community centers.

Last week, the state health department released a Covid modeling update that showed rates across the state are in a “slow decline.” While there could be surges in the fall and winter, the updated boosters could blunt the impact.

“Models suggest minor case surges in the Fall barring the introduction of a new variant,” reads the VDH’s report from Sept. 2. “An aggressive new variant, in combination with holiday travel and colder weather, could cause another surge in December. But bivalent vaccine boosters could cut this surge short.”

Arlington is currently seeing a seven-day moving average of 44 daily Covid cases, according to the latest VDH data. That’s down from more than 160 daily cases three months ago.

Covid cases in Arlington as of Sept. 8, 2022 (via Virginia Dept. of Health)

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