With efforts gearing up to vaccinate a large part of its population now that eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine has been expanded to more people, Loudoun County will receive more doses from the state and open a third vaccination site.
The third mass vaccination site follows the first vaccination site in eastern Loudoun and a second opened in cooperation with the school system, where school nurses are working on getting teachers vaccinated.
Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement last week that vaccine eligibility would be expanded to everyone age 65 and up meant that approximately half of all Virginians are now eligible. But waiting in line for an appointment is another story.
According to Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend, this week the county Health Department placed its largest-ever request, for 10,000 doses. County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said initially, county officials were told Loudoun would get about half of that request, but phone calls to the Northam administration cleared that up. That shipment is expected early next week.
Randall said the governor’s office was helpful in getting the county its full request.
“To be able to talk to them when we did in the middle of all this, they were very helpful,” Randall said. “I’ve criticized Mr. Northam when I thought it was appropriate, but this was one time that they’ve been very responsive.”
“For us, the amount of vaccine is the limiting factor of how quickly we can get vaccine into people’s arms, and getting everything we think we need to be able to do that allows us to open up more of our vaccination sites,” Goodfriend said.
But vaccination for the general public will remain slow, constrained by a limited supply of vaccine across the state with only about 100,000 doses a week coming to Virginia. That also means Loudoun will next week be getting a significant portion of the vaccine allocated to Virginia.
Until the supply increases, Goodfriend said, vaccination for the public will remain with the county’s vaccination sites for expediency, rather than at doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Each county site, he said, is able to vaccinate 500 to 600 people a day, and on Friday across the two current sites the Health Department vaccinated more than 1,200 people.
Even with the 10,000-dose order coming in, vaccination rollout will still take time, he said.
“We’re really still on the same course of [Phase] 1b running probably through March for first and second doses, and that’s assuming the vaccine supply remains stable,” Goodfriend said. “If for some reason it’s able to increase significantly, then we can move faster. It’s the amount of vaccine that’s determining the pace of how quickly we can go.”
In addition to a long line—Goodfriend said about 40,000 people have signed up for the vaccine through the online survey already—some of that vaccine will go into the necessary second doses. The first Phase 1b vaccinations in Loudoun were administered on Dec. 28, meaning they will be due for their second dose beginning Jan. 25.