I know many of you have received, or heard about, emails from Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) cancelling appointments for Covid vaccinations. We were just briefed on the situation by our staff at the end of today’s County Board meeting. Once the meeting is posted, you may want to watch the discussion, which began at about 12:50 pm today. VHC will no longer receive vaccines from the state. VHC will give second doses of vaccine to those who already have had their first shot, but they are cancelling all other appointments. Arlington County will now receive all the vaccines from the Virginia Health Department (VDH) to administer. We are ready, willing and able to administer those vaccine doses in much higher numbers than we are likely to receive for some time.
If you had an appointment cancelled by VHC, your information was sent to Arlington County. We will be contacting everyone who was previously scheduled with VHC in order to schedule new appointments. But that will take some time. We got the list of people with appointments that were cancelled at 10 am this morning. We are working with the list to upload it into our and the CDC systems in order to contact everyone with a new appointment for vaccination. We are
working under slightly different rules than VHC for who gets vaccinated and in what priority order. Right now, we will be working to get everyone 75 years or older vaccinated and others in special categories as set by VDH. We in Arlington do not set the priority categories for vaccination; the Governor does.
You can still pre-register on our website to be vaccinated. If you had an appointment cancelled, please try to be patient. I know it is frustrating and even scary to have to wait after being scheduled. Our staff is working as fast as they can, including over the weekend (as they have been working for almost a year now) to upload the data from VHC. Unfortunately, this transfer of information has to be done mostly manually to get it into the format that CDC and we can use and recognize. We plan to reschedule people in the order in which their appointment was originally made allowing for the Governor’s priority categories. I again recommend our website which we try to update as soon as information changes.
As I’m sure you have been reading, the vaccine rollout nationally has been chaotic. The information and vaccine deliveries from the Federal government have been unreliable, and the number of doses Virginia and other states receive constantly changing. Unfortunately, the changes usually mean we are getting fewer vaccine doses than we were counting on. In response to the changing information about the number of doses the State will get from the Federal government, Virginia made the change in how it allocates vaccines to Arlington and has changed the priority order we should use.
We in Arlington are doing our best to respond to this constantly changing situation. I am confident that our staff is doing the best possible work they can under the circumstances and want to recognize the difficult and sustained effort they have made since last March to respond to the pandemic. I am confident the situation will improve. But, for the moment, we all need to be patient and continue to take Covid precautions.
Finally, it was noted that this situation could be ripe for scammers. Please know that Arlington County emails and/or phone calls will never ask you:
— to pay for the vaccine or its administration, or
— to give any personal-identifying information
If you feel the call/email is suspicious, please get in touch with me.
Please let your friends and neighbors know that our staff is working flat out to reschedule appointments. We are not creating the disruption and chaos, but responding to it and bringing order out of the chaos as quickly as we can.
If you have questions, feel free to contact me as always, but you might also wait a few days and check the website or call our hotline. Information should be a lot clearer in a few days.