Loudoun County Health Director Dr. David Goodfriend fielded questions Wednesday night from people eager to get a COVID-19 vaccine—and frustrated or worried by the wait.
Many of the questions came from people worried or confused by the changed system for registering to be vaccinated, and the state’s delay in getting that system fully functional. Local health departments like Loudoun which had already begun taking signups for the vaccine were instructed in early February to shut those sites down and send their lists to the state to add to a central, statewide system. Signups for vaccination appointments are now at vaccinate.virginia.gov. But that statewide system has been slow to catch up—some Loudouners report they still cannot find their information on the Virginia Department of Health site, prompting them to worry that their names were lost in the shuffle.
Goodfriend assured them at a Facebook live event Wednesday night that they were not.
“If anyone is concerned thy can mail me at email@example.com with your name and we’ll look it up for you and let you know where you are on the list,” Goodfriend said. “If you’re fine with the understanding that we have your place in line, you don’t need to do that. But if you need that and want that reassurance, don’t hesitate to email us.”
Further confusing the issue, pharmacy CVS is taking signups separately on its own site, with more pharmacies expected to begin enrolling soon.
And in Northern Virginia, because the Fairfax County Health Department is administered differently—locally operated—that health department stayed with its local registration system while the rest of the state switched to the statewide system. Goodfriend explained Loudoun did not have that choice.
Senate Bill 1221, introduced by Sen. Barbara A. Favola (D-31), which would allow Loudoun to also locally operate its health department, has passed the General Assembly and is waiting on the governor’s signature.
Goodfriend also said he expects the state’s website to improve over time.
“There are privacy issues with the state system, just like we have privacy issues,” Goodfriend said. “The information you gave us when you signed up is private information. So there’s only so much that we want to be able to share with folks without some way of vetting who is asking for that information and if they have a right to it.”
But the waits will continue. Goodfriend said even with new vaccines expected soon, he expects it will be another two months before the state is ready to move on to the third phase of vaccines, Phase 1c, which includes many utility workers, food service workers, transportation and logistics workers, information technology, legal services, media, and others.
As of Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health reports 59,080 vaccine doses administered in Loudoun, with 18,844 people fully vaccinated.