While many of us are still waiting for word of our first vaccination being scheduled (including yours truly), this was a much better week for our vaccination program, and I thought perhaps my readers might like to hear some of the feedback and information I have from this week.
As you know, our staff were working hard over the past week to reschedule the appointments that had been cancelled by Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) for those 75 and over. From Friday a week ago through this Tuesday, 63 of our staff made 3,191 calls and scheduled 2,336 appointments. This was a Herculean effort by teams from over 4 different County agencies. Many people were kind enough to share their experiences with me and they, truly, made my day. I thought I’d share some comments with you and perhaps they will brighten yours:
“…..We received a call from [Arlington county employee’s name]. She was extremely helpful and just a delight to talk to….When we arrived at the Syphax Education, both my wife and I were most impressed at how organized the operation was and how very nice all of the people that we dealt with were.”
“…..the whole process was very well-organized…..After vaccination you wait 15 or 30 min. 30 min if you’ve had allergic reactions previously…. Before you leave, you’re given a card with date for 2nd dose plus identification of which vaccine you rec’d…..Congratulations to Arlington’s health folks on the easy, well-organized process!”
“…..Quite an impressive operation…. Kudos to Arlington and please express our thanks to everyone…”
“…..Yesterday I received a vaccination for Covid and the County Health Department needs to be complimented. Lines were short, people very helpful and courteous. Everything went very smoothly.”
“……Just wanted to let you know we got our vaccinations today and I will say I was very impressed with the way the system was set up….nothing but high praise the way the whole operation operated.”
I know many of you are, like me, still waiting, and I know it is hard to not be sure you have place in the virtual line. We are working toward being able to let people know when they can expect to be vaccinated, but we don’t have that ability yet. Part of the issue is knowing how many vaccine doses we can expect in the future. Hopefully, we will get a far greater supply than we are receiving now. We have the capacity to get many more shots in people’s arms than we are currently delivering.
I know it can be hard to hear about others getting their vaccinations and hard to understand why neighboring jurisdictions are doing things differently and have different priorities for whom they vaccinate. The U.S. doesn’t have a national health care system but instead a collection of lots of health care providers, both public and private, that often do not coordinate. Arlington County can only help the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) manage the public health district here with the vaccine doses we receive. We do not determine the priority order for vaccinations. We do not determine whom either hospitals or pharmacies vaccinate nor how they do it. We do try to coordinate efforts, but have no authority to make others coordinate with us. Given the circumstances, I believe our staff are doing amazing work and doing the best they can given the constantly changing situation. Let me assure everyone that we are administering all the vaccine doses we get and have not wasted any.
We do hold back about 10% of the vaccines we have each week so we have them in hand to cover the appointments for the next Monday since sometimes there are delays in delivery. We are doing our very best to make sure everyone has their dose waiting for them when they come in and to make sure no one waits long. If there are ever vaccine doses left because someone does not come for their appointment, we have a system to administer those doses to others who need it that day.
I hope this update has been helpful and I’ll update you again when I have more information. I hope to be able to report soon that we have vaccinated almost everyone over 75 in Arlington, and that we are moving on to start vaccinating those 65 and older.
You may be interested in a virtual discussion hosted by Arlington County’s Committee of 100 this Wednesday, February 7th at 7:00 pm: “Virus and Vaccine: What’s the way forward in Arlington?” This will be an update on the vaccination process and way forward in Arlington featuring Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington County Public Health Director, and Nancy White, Arlington Free Clinic Executive Director & Co-Chair of the Arlington Complete Vaccination Committee. Please register at the following link:
It looks like we will get more snow tomorrow. I hope everyone stays warm, safe and well.