Urgent Update on COVID-19

What happened? 

 On January 22 Virginia Hospital Center started canceling all first dose vaccination appointments from January 26 onwards.   Most of these were for 75+ in the 1b category.  The ensuring panic that occurred following the VHC email cancelations was addressed on Saturday by Arlington County officials, starting with the County Board meeting at 12:50 and then a virtual meeting previously scheduled at 3 pm by Rep Mark Levine, both of which hosted Dr. Reuben Varghese, Arlington’s Public Health Director.  The County then sent out a Special COVID notice to explain the situation and allay fears.

CCCA Meeting January 27 7-9 pm:  This makes our previously scheduled CCCA meeting this Wednesday particularly important, as Dr. Reuben Varghese and other public health officials will be there at the first hour to explain and answer questions.  This is the Zoom link to join at that time; no pre-registration needed.  You can also call in:  301-715-8592 (Meeting ID: 846 5759 5914; Passcode: 3238240).  Or watch Facebook Live on our CCCA Facebook page where it will be recorded.

Short Summary:  But in case you can’t watch the meetings or want a simple explanation, here it is.

1.  Not enough vaccine.  Virginia is only getting 105,000 doses a week and has to parse those to communities like Arlington County which has only received 5,100 doses since December and used 89.4% as of January 23.  VHC was getting 2,000 doses and is running out, but had scheduled appointments well into February. 

2.  Sudden VA decision to send vaccine only to local health officials (e.g., Arlington County) and not to clinics/hospitals (e.g., VHC). See the Newsroom article for details: https://newsroom.arlingtonva.us/release/vhc-hospital-vaccine-appointments-canceled/.   VHC can now only provide a second dose to those who received a first dose from them, but all further appointments will be made by the County.  (Note:  The Federal Government is following a separate process with CVS and others to vaccinate in long-term care facilities.)  

Most Urgent Bottom Lines:

  • The County is sorting through a VHC list of 3,000 canceled appointments and will follow this priority list in a slide provided by Dr. Varghese.  (Green highlight means the category is in process.)
  • If you are 75+ and your appointment at VHC was canceled, be patient. The County will contact you in the next few days to reschedule in the next few weeks as vaccine becomes available; you do not have to reregister.
  • If you are 75+ and have NOT yet scheduled a vaccination, you are encouraged to pre-register with the Arlington County Department of Public Health, and you will be notified as vaccine appointments become available.
  • If you are not 75+ but had an appointment canceled at VHC, you must now pre-register with the Arlington County Department of Public Health, and you will be notified as vaccine appointments become available.
  • If you are 65+ or in the former 1c category of 16-64 with an underlying condition, you must now pre-register with the Arlington County Department of Public Health, and you will be notified as vaccine appointments become available.
  • Give the County a few days to work this all out and don’t call the public information line right now.  They have to first reschedule about 3,000 75+ first dose appointments, as well as continue with essential workers in the 1b category.
  • This is a very useful County vaccination FAQ page to answer all (or most) of your questions.

If you know someone who does not have access to email or the Internet or is not a member of the CCCA, please share this information with them.  One of the County’s most difficult tasks is to contact people who don’t have that technology since the appointment system is Internet-based and technology-heavy.