(Updated at 12:10 p.m.) The Fairfax County Health Department has completed sending out vaccine appointment invitations to 42,000 eligible residents who signed up on Jan. 18 and is now hopeful it will be able set up appointments at a faster clip.
“Now that we have got thru [Jan. 18 registrations], we anticipate that we will move more quickly through the other dates,” Fairfax County Health Department spokesperson Tina Dale told Reston Now, Tysons Reporter’s affiliate site. “In addition, we are working with more vaccination partners, so this, too, will assist us in moving through our registration list faster.”
If residents registered on Jan. 18 or before and have not received an invite, Dale says they should check their spam folder. If there’s no email with the subject line “Schedule Appointment,” residents should call the COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 703-324-7404, and a call taker should be able to assist.
The county’s dashboard now says they are currently making appointments for those who registered on Jan. 19.
Jan. 18 was the first day that the county allowed residents who qualified for Phase 1b to register for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Phase 1b includes residents 65 years old and over and those 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions.
When vaccine appointments opened to those in Phase 1b that day, more than 42,000 eligible signed up and registered — far exceeding any other day.
In fact, the county’s vaccine dashboard shows that the 42,000 registrations on Jan. 18 alone matched the number of registrations over the next four days combined.
The county acknowledged when the dashboard launched in mid-February that sending invitations for scheduling a vaccine appointment to everyone who signed up on Jan. 18 would take “several weeks.”
As of noon today, more than 95,000 residents remain on the waitlist, which means they are awaiting an invitation to schedule an appointment.
The county says it doesn’t have an estimated timeline for when those remaining people will receive an invitation to sign up for a vaccine appointment or when the county will open appointments sign up those in Phase 1c for appointments.
However, the Virginia Department of Health expects the vaccine supply to increase over the next two months, Dale says, and the Commonwealth has said they expect to get through all of those who are eligible and want the vaccine in Phase 1b by mid to late April.
Essentially, demand still far outweighs supply — a continued issue since the vaccine first started being distributed in December.
Overall, about 176,700 residents have been vaccinated in Fairfax County, which represents just over 15% of the county’s total population.
That rate is comparable to Virginia and the country as a whole, which have, respectively, vaccinated about 16% and 15% of the population, according to The Washington Post.
Additionally, on Friday (Feb. 26), the county acknowledged that there were issues with about 2,800 registrations “not being correctly captured in the system due to technical errors.”
Dale says that these registrations have been corrected and were a result of a combination of issues, including both “user error and system error.”
Since then, the county has added new features to the registration to reduce the possibility of user error, like providing two fields for email addresses and limiting the number of characters for phone number and zip code.
The county is also asking people to review the spelling of their names and email addresses and to ensure their date of birth is accurate to make sure there are no errors.
Photo via Fairfax County Health Department