Updated on 10/26/2020 — The headline of this article previously described Fairfax County’s flu clinics as free. A county spokesperson has clarified that the cost of a shot depends on the individual’s insurance like at a pharmacy.
The Fairfax County Health Department and Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) have joined forces to offer a series of flu vaccination clinics at senior centers across the county.
The clinics were originally intended to exclusively serve people 50 and older, because older people tend to be more at risk for flu-related complications. However, the county has decided to expand the criteria to allow all adults 18 and older to utilize the service.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force and flu season starting, it is more important than ever that older adults get vaccinated for influenza,” NCS communications director Amanda Rogers said. “…While the initial scope of the partnership was to provide older adults a safe environment to get their annual flu vaccine, we have expanded the criteria to include all adults 18 and older for the remaining events.”
After launching on Oct. 6 at the Herndon Senior Center, four additional clinics are scheduled to take place from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., three days per week, for the next four weeks:
- Oct. 19, 21 and 22: Lincolnia Senior Center (4710 N. Chambliss Street, Alexandria)
- Oct. 26, 28 and 29: Original Mount Vernon High School (8333 Richmond Highway, Alexandria)
- Nov. 2, 4 and 5: Little River Glen Senior Center (4001 Barker Court, Fairfax)
- Nov. 9, 10 and 12: Lewinsville Senior Center (1613 Great Falls Street, McLean)
Fairfax County is also holding flu vaccine clinics for adults and children 6 months or older at the Herndon Reston District Health Office on Oct. 24 and the Mount Vernon District Health Office on Nov. 7.
While health officials recommend that everyone 6 months or older get vaccinated for influenza annually, the need for people to get flu shots is especially urgent this year, as flu season arrives while the U.S. continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flu season typically starts in late fall and lasts throughout the winter in the U.S., hospitalizing more than 200,000 people and killing about 36,000 people every year, according to the Fairfax County Health Department.
Caused by viruses that infect the respiratory system, influenza produces symptoms similar to the ones now associated with the novel coronavirus, including fever, coughing, a sore throat, body aches, fatigue, and headaches.
“It’s very important that we take advantage of the flu vaccine to protect ourselves against the flu so we don’t overburden the healthcare system with individuals who have serious complications of the flu, because they’re already taxed right now responding to COVID-19,” Fairfax County Health Department director of health services Shauna Severo said in a video about the senior center flu vaccine clinics.
In accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for reducing the potential transmission of COVID-19, Fairfax County is requiring all clinic visitors to wear face masks, undergo temperature checks, and adhere to social distancing protocols.
Visits are by appointment only, and all individuals are screened for COVID-19 symptoms both before their appointment and on the day they arrive.
All healthcare providers and other workers staffing the clinics are also wearing masks and other personal protective equipment.
“We are taking every precaution at our clinics to create a safe environment for individuals to come get their vaccine,” Severo said.
Community members can schedule an appointment at one of Fairfax County’s flu vaccine clinics by calling 703-246-6010.
Other locations for getting a flu shot can be found through the website vaccinefinder.org. Tysons Reporter also compiled a list of medical providers and pharmacies in the Tysons area that were offering vaccinations as of Sept. 1.
Photo via Channel 16 Around Fairfax
Fairfax County Public Schools could expand in-person learning to more students starting next week based on current health data, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand says in a presentation that he will deliver to the county school board at its work session tonight (Thursday).
Virginia Department of Health data indicates that Northern Virginia has started seeing a slight uptick in reported COVID-19 cases in October, with 314 cases reported on Oct. 15 for a seven-day moving average of 248 cases. However, the burden and extent of community transmission in the region is still considered low as of the week that ended on Oct. 10.
Coupled with efforts to implement mitigation strategies recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and prepare staff for instructional and operational changes, Fairfax County’s current health metrics support FCPS continuing to phase in in-person learning, Brabrand’s presentation says.
After introducing in-person instruction for select specialized career preparation classes on Oct. 5, FCPS is planning to expand in-person learning to some of its early childhood special education services, including its preschool autism class, on Oct. 19.
Under Brabrand’s tentative timeline, FCPS will continue phasing cohorts of students – mostly younger students and students with special education needs – into in-person classes throughout the rest of the year before introducing hybrid learning for all students in early 2021.
For hybrid learning, students can choose to remain completely online or to receive two days of in-person instruction and two days of virtual instruction. This phase will start on Jan. 4 for grades three to six and on Feb. 1 for grades seven through 12.
“We believe in-person instruction is best to meet our students’ academic, social, and emotional needs,” Brabrand’s presentation says. “We want to phase students back to in-person instruction as safely, efficiently, and as early as possible. All phase-in decisions will be made with student and staff safety as the highest priority.” Read More
An overwhelming majority of Fairfax County Public Schools teachers say they are not confident in Fairfax County Public Schools’ (FCPS) reopening plan, according to a survey conducted by the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.
The federation released the results of three surveys Tuesday evening during a press conference. The data paint a stark picture for county teachers, who report fearing for their health and that of family members, working far beyond their contracted hours, and feeling the effects on their mental and physical health.
The message from the Federation of Teachers is clear: Members want the school district to delay reopening until the FCPS plan improves communication, provides specific metrics, and offers every teacher a virtual option, a few hallmarks of the teachers’ 11 requirements for a safe reopening.
“Our position has always been, and continues to be, that we want kids back in school as quickly as possible, but that means as safely as possible,” said Tina Williams, president, Fairfax County Federation of Teachers.
FCPS did not return Tysons Reporter’s request for comment.
The response comes one week after Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand presented his reopening plan to the county school board. Under the proposed plan, about 6,700 students could return to school in October, with more trickling in throughout the year if conditions improve. Members criticized the lack of hard numbers and concrete metrics, especially regarding school closures after outbreaks.
Of the 1,300 teachers who responded, 85.7% are not confident in FCPS reopening plan, and 70% feel unsafe returning, while 21% said they are “unsure.” About 27% said they would consider taking a leave of absence, while 26% were undecided.
Some teachers who are older or have conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, or who live with family members who are high-risk, said they face an ultimatum to work or leave because their applications for accommodations were denied. Read More
Despite anticipation of a steep drop off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Vienna has managed higher revenue on its meals tax than expected.
The meals tax generated 80% revenue for the first month of the new fiscal year, July, compared to last year. During pre-pandemic months, the monthly average for meals tax was $250,000, while July’s revenue came in at $194,000.
While there have been concerns for lower meals tax through the upcoming colder months, the generated revenue has left the town “pleasantly surprised,” according to finance director Marion Serfass. In preparation for a steeper drop off, the town budgeted for 50% of the pre-pandemic revenue.
Since March, five restaurants in the town have either moved or closed, while only one has reopened.
A contributing factor for the steady meals tax has been the stable business for drive-thru and high-end restaurants. During the pandemic months, there has been “no noticeable” drop off for drive-thru restaurants compared to previous meals tax revenue. The assumption for the trend is that people feel safer utilizing drive-thru restaurants, according to Serfass.
The meals tax revenue — a 3% tax on each meal sold — is used to pay back bonds issued for capital improvement projects.
Though the revenue has been higher than expected and the town is gradually recovering from the effects of the pandemic, there are still concerns about how local businesses may be affected by the pandemic if it stretches into next year.
In a discussion on Tuesday with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert, and various business and economic leaders, Town Economic Development Manager Natalie Monkou cautioned that businesses might need to adjust to the ongoing health crisis.
“We’re anticipating the health crisis to continue into 2021 and we want to be able to help our business community pivot,” Monkou said.
Flu season is around the corner and regional officials will gather tomorrow morning to discuss the importance of the annual vaccination.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever that everyone do their part to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like flu,” a press release said.
The meeting, which begins tomorrow (Sept. 17) at 9.m., will include speeches from Fairfax County officials who encourage members of the public to receive their yearly flu vaccinations, according to a press release.
Those who want to watch the event are invited to do so virtually via Facebook Live.
A recent Tysons Reporter poll said that almost 20% of 494 respondents have already gotten their flu shot for the year while another 66% of respondents that they plan to do so soon.
“Getting a flu shot will help prevent unnecessary illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths and will protect frontline health care workers and conserve scarce medical resources needed to care for COVID-19 patients,” a press release said.
Attendees at tomorrow’s event will likely include:
- City of Falls Church Mayor David Tarter
- Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeffrey McKay
- President and CEO of Inova Health System Dr. Stephen Jones
- Town of Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert
Finally, for the first time since March, McCabe’s Printing Group has seen a jump in sales.
The Merrifield based shop (8451 Hilltop Road), which typically specializes in promotional materials for schools and banquets, suffered a 50% drop in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to operations manager Chris Ricci.
“Mid-March, everything dropped off the face of the earth in terms of work,” Ricci said. “It was kind of a shock, to say the least.”
But after forming a few new partnerships and changing tactics, Ricci said that the shop finally began to bounce back in August.
“I wanna say that businesses slowly and gradually reopening has definitely played a role in boosting morale,” he said, adding that the shop has seen a large increase for printed materials reminding people of safety procedures to prevent the spread of COVID, such as proper handwashing techniques and PSAs to wear a mask.
“We’ve been lucky,” Ricci said. “A lot of print shops had a lot of difficulties during this time, but the biggest goal is keeping at it.”
When the pandemic first hit, Ricci said that the shop received a federal PPP loan.
“That definitely helped us out, especially during the early months,” Ricci said. “We were one of the first ones to apply and get it.”
The shop is also awaiting a loan from Fairfax County, which Ricci is expecting to hit the accounts sometime next week.
Ricci said that he’s been with the company since he was a “wee little lad,” adding that he has family connections to the business.
For community members who want to keep supporting local and small businesses, Ricci said he wanted to remind people that there is a gap between the drive to support local shop owners in practice vs theory.
“The biggest disconnect that folks have is supporting local businesses but not supporting small business prices,” he said, adding that the printing industry has a very small sales margin to begin with.
Ricci encourages people to chat with the staff when visiting a small business, that way they can form a connection with other community members.
“There are not that many people at small businesses, so when you walk in, you could easily be chatting with the owner,” Ricci said.
Image courtesy McCabe’s Printing Group
Prompted by the pandemic, a Tysons based company is stepping up to fill orders for personal protective equipment in the D.C. area.
Personal Protective Equipment USA offers a variety of products including face shields, sneeze guards, custom masks and gloves, the website said.
“Vienna Foodies have already ordered close to 1000 masks from us to raise funds for first responders and underprivileged families,” Parada said. “It’s been a great hit.”
Though the fundraiser is now closed, according to the Vienna Va Foodies Facebook page, the group was selling red, baby blue and black masks for $10 each.
Unlike similar products, the masks by Personal Protective Equipment USA include “Nano Silver Antimicrobial Technology” which Parada said is supposed to be more comfortable and breathable.
Along with Vienna based groups, over 700 orders have been placed with businesses in the D.C. area so far.
“Orders keep pouring in,” he said.
In the near future, Parada said the company will be doing its own fundraiser to collect toys for kids at the Children’s Hospital in Fairfax. After his own son was previously diagnosed with stage four cancer at age three, Parada decided to help other kids fighting for their lives.
Anyone who is interested in placing an order can visit the shop’s website.
After several weeks in the mid 200 range, COVID-19 figures for Fairfax County swelled to over 400 new cases per week in mid-August.
While the data at the time showed cases continuing to trend downward, the window of COVID-19 diagnoses meant that the figures for the mid-August timeframe increased substantially in the following weeks. The week of Aug. 16 there were 434 new cases — the highest number of new cases per week since May.
While higher than the average, the number of new cases was still higher than the peak of 1,400 new cases the week of April 26. The weeks after August showed a substantial decline as well, to just 99 cases for the week of Aug. 30, the change to earlier weeks showed those figures could increase with time.
One of the highest densities of cases was the 22027 area code, which includes Dunn Loring and parts of Idlywood, but the zip code is small enough with a population of only 2,362 that a count of 71 confirmed cases was disproportionately high.
The other areas nearby had roughly 200 confirmed confirmed cases each except 22043, which includes Merrifield and parts of Tysons, which had 353 cases.
This afternoon, the Vienna Town Council unanimously approved the use of outdoor gathering space for churches, schools and other non-commercial entities during the ongoing pandemic.
The ordinance will allow groups to socially distance and meet under safer conditions by avoiding indoor spaces with less air circulation.
A town attorney said that the council made the ordinance as broad as they could, as to make it inclusive for groups that need it.
“The good news is that if we left anything out in a rush, the good news is that it will come back before you,” the attorney said to the council, noting that they will have to vote to readopt it in 60 days.
Mayor Linda Colbert said at the meeting that she was greeted this morning before the vote by students from Green Hedges at her weekly “meet the mayor” event. The kids and their headmaster all encouraged the council to vote yes on the proposition.
The council also received emails and correspondence from church groups in the area, pushing for the changes, according to the town clerk.
“If you can get the kids out of the classroom and out into the open air, I think is safer in general,” councilmember Nisha Patel previously said.
The change comes after the council approved to extend the use of outdoor space for commercial businesses yesterday.
As fall and winter approach, medical professionals are urging people not to skip their annual flu shot this year, as a spike in the flu could cause unnecessary hospitalizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doctors worry that people forgoing their flu shot this year could have detrimental effects on the healthcare system by potentially overwhelming hospitals, USA Today reported.
People who received their annual flu shot in a 2018 study were 82% less likely to be admitted to the ICU for potentially life-threatening symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on the website.
Since some medical professionals are worried that this upcoming winter could see a spike in COVID-19 cases — as it will be harder for people to gather outdoors while socially distancing — doctors want to keep unnecessary hospitalizations low.
People six months and older can receive a dose of the flu vaccine annually, the CDC said, adding that people can either opt for the shot or the nasal spray.
Lots of clinics and medical offices already are offering flu shots in the Tysons area:
- The Kaiser Permanente Tysons Corner Medical Center (8008 Westpark Drive) offers a drive-through flu vaccination station, according to its website. Beginning today through Nov. 30, people can stop by on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. From Sept. 12 until Oct. 24 people can also stop by on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
- Some drug stores such as CVS and Walgreens also offer walk-in flu shots. For example, the CVS at 1452 Chain Bridge Road offers slots from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. On Saturdays, they are taking patients from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and again from 1:30 p.m. until around 4:30.
- Around Falls Church, McLean and Vienna, CVS also has several other flu shot locations which can be found online through a proximity tracker.
- While they stop to shop for groceries, people can get their flu shots at pharmacies inside specific Safeway and Giant stores. At Giant (1454 Chain Bridge Road), the pharmacy is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
- Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church (IHVI Atrium 3300 Gallows Road) is offering free flu shots for members with an Inova insurance plan from Sept. 5 through Dec. 1 from 9 a.m. until 12 p.m. each Saturday.
- People can also check with their primary care doctor, as many family practices also offer flu shots.