Coronavirus illustration (via CDC on Unsplash)

Fairfax County’s COVID-19 case levels remain well below the worst days of the pandemic, but their rapid rise over the past month is enough to set off alarm bells, threatening to bring a summer heralded as a return to normalcy to a more sobering end.

The Fairfax Health District, which encompasses the county and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has added 457 new cases since this time last week, including 64 cases just today (Monday) and 84 cases on Friday (July 23) — the biggest single-day influx since 127 cases were reported on May 7. The district has now reported a total of 79,024 cases.

10 more people in the Fairfax Health District were hospitalized by the novel coronavirus over the past week, and one person died, bringing the respective totals up to 4,171 hospitalizations and 1,152 deaths.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, Fairfax County’s current seven-day average of 65.3 new cases is the highest it has been since May 9, when it was 67.7 cases. In comparison, the weekly average was hovering around zero as recently as June 20.

In addition, the district’s testing positivity rate has jumped from 0.8% on July 3 to 2.4% as of July 22.

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over the past 90 days as of July 26, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)
All Fairfax County COVID-19 cases as of July 26, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

The increased transmission of COVID-19 over the past month has been attributed to the growing presence of the delta variant — the most contagious version of the virus yet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 83.2% of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now stem from the delta variant. While the Fairfax Health District has officially recorded just 20 delta cases, the CDC predicts that variant has made up an increasing share of cases in the mid-Atlantic region, from 45.3% during the two weeks ending on July 3 to 69.4% by July 17.

With more cases occurring overall, Virginia has seen more breakthrough infections over the past couple of weeks. On July 9, when VDH started reporting this data, 0.004% of fully vaccinated people had contracted COVID-19 in 2021. As of July 23, when the dashboard was last updated, there have 1,377 breakthrough cases in the state — 0.032% of fully vaccinated individuals.

However, unvaccinated individuals still make up 99.54% of COVID-19 cases and nearly all hospitalizations and deaths. 7,757 unvaccinated people have been hospitalized this year, compared to 114 people who were fully vaccinated, and 3,846 of the 3,884 people who have died were not fully vaccinated.

While some parts of the country have reinstated mask mandates in response to rising cases, Virginia has kept its focus on getting people vaccinated even as demand has slowed. The Commonwealth let its public health order requiring masks in schools expire yesterday (Sunday), instead leaving mask rules up to local school districts.

The Fairfax Health District has adminstered 1.4 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, delivering at least one shot to 752,842 residents, including 75.8% of people 18 and older. 63.6% of the district’s population has gotten at least one dose, outpacing Virginia as a whole, which has given at least one dose to just under 60% of the population.

683,428 Fairfax Health District residents are now fully vaccinated, which amounts to 69.2% of adults and 57.7% of the total population, according to the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 vaccinations by age group as of July 26, 2021 (via Fairfax County Health Department)

Interestingly, young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 are lagging behind in vaccinations. 67.3% of them have received at least one dose, whereas every other age group, including 12 to 17-year-olds, has a vaccination rate of at least 70%.

Photo via CDC on Unsplash

0 Comments

Months after Virginia started lifting its mask restrictions, the once-ubiquitous face masks that were a defining symbol of the COVID-19 pandemic have started becoming more scarce. But with the delta variant starting to cause a COVID-19 resurgence, some are saying masks in public should make a comeback, even for people who have been fully vaccinated.

The delta variant now accounts for 83% of new COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated earlier this week. The delta variant is more contagious than other strands of COVID-19 and could potentially have more severe symptoms.

In official channels, mask requirements have continued to ease up. The Commonwealth is set to let a statewide mandate on indoor mask wearing in schools expire on Sunday (July 25), though the state guidance remains that teachers, students and staff should still wear their masks indoors.

While the virus now appears to be almost exclusively spreading among unvaccinated people, some fully vaccinated people have continued wearing masks for a variety of reasons, from a desire to fend off other illnesses or to protect young children and other people unable to get a vaccine to concern about being judged.

Have you stayed in the habit of wearing a face mask, or does it depend on the setting?

0 Comments
Students read socially distanced in masks in Falls Church City Schools (courtesy Katie Heeter/FCCPS)

Virginia school districts will make their own rules regarding masking requirements for the upcoming school year, the state’s education and health departments announced today (Wednesday).

The Commonwealth will let a public health order that’s in effect until Sunday (July 25) expire, thereby ending a statewide mandate that kids over age 5 wear masks indoors at public and private schools and putting decisions in the hands of local officials.

“The science is clear that vaccinations and masks help keep our communities safe from COVID-19,” Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey said in a statement. “The Commonwealth’s children and the individuals that help them learn will be protected by proven strategies, without a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Fairfax County Public Schools currently requires masks to be worn indoors for students, staff, and visitors when school is in session “until more students aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and until younger students become eligible for vaccination.”

“We are reviewing the guidance and reaching out to hear from our community, and will share a plan early next week with staff and families,” FCPS spokesperson Julie Moult said in a statement.

Virginia’s new guidance says elementary schools should require students, teachers, and staff to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until vaccines are available for young children. For middle and high schools, it recommends that students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated be required to wear masks indoors.

State officials said the change will allow districts to make their own decisions and the switch reflects changes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which loosened its guidance earlier this month and advised that masks should be worn indoors by all individuals age 2 and older who are not fully vaccinated.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, by contrast, recommends that, unless they are unable to do so due to medical or developmental challenges, all school staff and students over the age of 2 should wear masks at school, even if they’re vaccinated.

The changes come as daily COVID-19 cases have increased in Virginia and the U.S., and the especially contagious delta variant now represents 83% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., according to a CDC estimate.

Over 70% of students ages 12 to 17 in Fairfax County have been vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines for those under the age of 12 are not yet authorized but currently undergoing trials.

The CDC has said that most students, including those with disabilities, can tolerate and safely wear a mask, but a “narrow subset of students with disabilities” may be unable to do so and should not be required to wear one.

0 Comments
Coronavirus illustration (via CDC on Unsplash)

If there were any doubts that the novel coronavirus is experiencing a resurgence in Fairfax County, the past week put those to rest.

With an additional 39 cases reported today (Monday), the county is now averaging 36.6 COVID-19 cases per day for the past week — the highest since May 15, when the seven-day average was 37.4 cases, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

The 48 cases recorded last Thursday (July 15) were the most in a single day since May 27, but the 78 cases that came in that day were an anomaly, whereas this appears to be part of a gradual increase in transmission after a month-long lull in June.

The Fairfax Health District, which also includes the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has now reported 78,567 COVID-19 cases over the course of the pandemic. 4,161 people have been hospitalized, and four more people have died from the virus since last Monday (July 12), bringing the death toll up to 1,151 people.

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over past 90 days as of July 19, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)
All Fairfax County COVID-19 cases as of July 19, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

Fairfax County is hardly alone in seeing a rise in COVID-19 levels.

Virginia as a whole has gone from a weekly average of 129 cases on June 20 — its lowest since the initial days of the pandemic in March 2020 — to a weekly average of 376 cases today. Nationwide, community transmission remains substantial, particularly across the South, lower Midwest, and Mountain West, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, director of Epidemiology and Population Health with the Fairfax County Health Department, says the more infectious delta variant “is likely a major contributor” to the county’s recent increase in COVID-19 cases.

As of Friday (July 16), the Fairfax Health District has confirmed 13 infections stemming from the delta variant, which hasn’t become as prevalent in Virginia as it is elsewhere in the U.S. In some areas around the country, that variant accounts for more than 70% of new cases.

However, infectious disease experts with Virginia Commonwealth University say “it’s not a matter of if but when” the delta variant will become widespread here.

“The key messages are, we can’t let down our guard, and everyone who isn’t vaccinated should be vaccinated as soon as possible,” Drs. Gonzalo Bearman and Michael Stevens said in a VCU Health news release.

As with the rest of the country, COVID-19 appears to now be mostly spreading in Fairfax County among people who have not been vaccinated. According to the VDH’s dashboard, which is updated every Friday, 99% of the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths recorded in Northern Virginia since Jan. 1, 2021 have involved people who were not fully vaccinated.

“While we can’t predict future case numbers, we do know that the delta variant increases the risk of infection for people who are not vaccinated,” Schwartz said in a statement. “Vaccination is the most important step someone can take to not only reduce their chance of being infected with the delta variant but also protect others in their family and community.”

While demand has started to level out in recent weeks, the Fairfax Health District has administered 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 759,473 residents, including 76.2% of all adults. 64.2% of the district’s overall population has received at least one dose.

664,007 residents are now fully vaccinated, which amounts to 67.7% of adults and 56.1% of the total population.

“While we have done well — vaccinating about 3 of every 4 adults in the county — we need to do even better vaccinating people 12 years and older if we are to stop the increase in infections,” Schwartz said.

He encourages people who remain hesitant about getting vaccinated to consult their health care provider or the Fairfax County Health Department, which has a call center at 703-324-7404, to discuss their concerns.

“People for whom getting vaccinated just hasn’t been a priority should be aware of the increase in infections as added motivation to get protected,” Schwartz said. “With over 300 sites in Fairfax County providing vaccinations, many accepting walk-ins, vaccination never has been easier.”

Photo via CDC on Unsplash

0 Comments
FCPS employee prepares to get COVID-19 vaccine (Photo by Karen Bolt/Fairfax County Public Schools)

While Fairfax County’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has only incrementally crept up over the last several weeks, county officials believe their campaign to get as many people vaccinated as possible still has a ways to go before it hits a ceiling.

About 75.5% of people over 18 have had at least one vaccine shot in the Fairfax Health District, which includes the county and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church. About 67% of all residents over 18 are considered fully vaccinated.

Both those numbers are above the national and state rates, but they have only gone up a couple of percentage points over the last month.

“Vaccination numbers are increasing more slowly than previously but we would not define it as ‘plateauing,'” Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Fairfax County’s director of epidemiology and population health, said.

Schwartz says national data suggests that about 15% of the population say they definitely do not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, but that percentage is “likely much lower here.”

“So there still are many in the county who are open to getting vaccinated,” writes Schwartz. “The challenges are addressing people’s concerns about the vaccine and making vaccination easy for people who may be less motivated [and] for whom vaccination just isn’t a priority.

Messaging is key, says Dr. Amira Roess, a professor of epidemiology at George Mason University, when it comes to local jurisdictions concentrating their efforts on helping those folks get vaccinated.

“75% of folks being vaccinated is really good…and higher than the national average,” Roess said. “But…we have to shift to look at which groups have lower vaccination rates…find out why they haven’t gotten vaccinated and what are their questions.”

County data shows that, in terms of age, those over 55 years old have gotten their vaccine at a higher percentage than those in their 20s and early 30s. About two thirds of adults from 25 to 34 years old have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine compared to more than 80% of those over the age of 55.

While older folks becoming eligible for the vaccine earlier due to their increased vulnerability to the virus is likely a factor in that difference, it remains a concern that younger residents are less likely to get the vaccine than the county average.

To address that gap, county officials say they are doing targeted outreach at venues like barber shops, fraternities, sororities, and hair salons as well as placing ads on Tiktok and other social platforms.

Additionally, the county enlisted MC Bugg-Z of cicada rap fame for a new hip-hop song and video about the need to get vaccinated.

Health data also indicates that Black and Latinx county residents have gotten vaccinated at lower rates than white residents.

Roess says it’s on officials to better understand the concerns that have produced racial and ethnic disparities in who has received the vaccine.

“For a lot of African-American populations, they are part of this culture, this decades-long experience of being experimented on in really unethical trials,” Roess said. “So, there’s some real legitimate concerns there because of the history.”

She also notes that many folks work all day and are only available at night.

Fairfax County officials say over 300 sites currently offer the vaccine, including pop-up clinics every day of the week at schools, libraries, and apartment complexes. The county also employs 18 “vaccine navigators,” who go out into communities, food distribution events, and places of businesses to address concerns and help people sign up to get the vaccine.

However, in recent weeks, some services that were previously offered have ended, including a free shuttle service to the Mount Vernon Square vaccine equity clinic as well as several community clinics.

In addition, the clinics are only open to 7:30 p.m. at the latest. Most close between 5 and 7 p.m.

With nearly all COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations now occurring among unvaccinated people, health officials are racing to expand vaccinations to counter the growing prevalence of variants that could spread more easily and cause more severe illness.

Of particular concern is the Delta variant, which is thought to be more contagious. As of Friday (July 9), Northern Virginia had reported 617 infections stemming from variants of concern, including 23 cases linked to the Delta variant.

Roess says the fear of the Delta variant may lead to more people getting vaccinated, but it could already be too late.

“It’s a…race between the Delta variant spreading and the vaccination rate,” Roess said. “What we might end up seeing is that by the time [more] people end up getting vaccinated, they are already exposed or infected by the Delta variant.”

0 Comments
Coronavirus illustration (via CDC on Unsplash)

While case numbers are still much lower than any other point in the pandemic, Fairfax County has started to see a definite uptick in COVID-19 transmission over the past couple of weeks compared to earlier in the summer.

A month ago, the rate of incoming cases had slowed to the point that the county’s weekly average dipped into negative numbers, but after reporting double digits six out of the past seven days, including 16 new cases today (Monday), the county is now averaging 16.7 cases a day for the week.

The Fairfax Health District, which also encompasses the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has recorded a total of 78,318 COVID-19 cases. 4,145 residents have been hospitalized by the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and 1,147 people have died, including two people since last Tuesday (July 6).

New Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over past 90 days as of July 12, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)
All new Fairfax County COVID-19 cases as of July 12, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

However, a new dashboard launched by the Virginia Department of Health on Friday (July 9) suggests that COVID-19 is now spreading almost exclusively within the state’s unvaccinated population.

According to the dashboard, which will be updated every Friday, 99.6% of the 290,770 cases reported in the Commonwealth so far this year have involved people who were not fully vaccinated. That trend is even more pronounced in Northern Virginia, where 99.8% of the 69,315 cases recorded since Jan. 1 are among people without the protection of a vaccine.

In comparison, there have been just 173 breakthrough cases in Northern Virginia among fully vaccinated people, representing 0.004% of that population.

In addition, 99.6% of the region’s COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths this year have been people who weren’t fully vaccinated. There have been six reported hospitalizations of individuals who were vaccinated and two breakthrough deaths.

Northern Virginia COVID-19 cases by vaccination status from Jan. 1 to July 9, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

Health officials say the data illustrates the overwhelming effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines that are available in the U.S.

“I applaud those who have chosen to protect themselves and the community by getting vaccinated, and we appreciate the work of all who are helping to vaccinate Virginians,” State Health Commissioner Dr. M. Norman Oliver said in a press release last week. “I continue to encourage everyone who is able to get vaccinated to do so.”

Vaccination rates, however, have flattened out as COVID-19 case numbers have fallen and public health restrictions have lifted, pushing officials to adopt a more targeted approach to get the vaccine to people who have not received it yet, either due to hesitancy or a lack of access.

According to the Fairfax County Health Department’s dashboard, 750,982 Fairfax Health District residents — 75.5% of adults and 63.5% of the overall population — have gotten at least one vaccine dose. 658,221 residents — 67.3% of adults and 55.6% of the overall population — are now fully vaccinated.

Virginia has administered more than 9.1 million doses. 59.3% of the state’s population, including 71.1% of people 18 and older, have received at least one dose, and 51.7% of residents, including 62.8% of adults, are fully vaccinated.

Top photo via CDC on Unsplash

0 Comments

With the Fourth of July now in the rearview mirror, community transmission of the novel coronavirus remains low in Fairfax County, but some indicators suggest COVID-19 levels could be on the rise again.

With the addition of four new cases today (Tuesday), the Fairfax Health District has reported exactly 100 new cases over the past week — almost as many as the entire month of June — bringing the total for Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church to 78,204 cases.

The weekly average has ticked back up since mid-June, climbing from zero cases over the preceding week on June 19 to 13.3 cases today, as has the testing positivity rate, which went from a moving seven-day average of 0.7% on June 27 to 0.9% as of July 2, according to Virginia Department of Health data.

These trends reflect the state of the pandemic in Virginia as a whole, which saw May’s steady decline in cases level out in June and now has a weekly average of 180 cases, up from an all-time low of 129 cases on June 20.

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over the past 90 days as of July 6, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

Fairfax County’s primary metrics of a 0.9% testing positivity rate and 1.2 new daily cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days are still well within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s thresholds for a low level of community transmission, which is defined as fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate under 5%.

Fairfax Health District COVID-19 testing positivity as of July 6, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

In addition, the severity of cases has been reduced from earlier in the pandemic. The Fairfax Health District reported one hospitalization in the past week for a total of 4,138 people and four deaths for 1,145 deaths overall.

In a blog post published on Friday (July 2), the Fairfax County Health Department attributed the continued low levels of COVID-19 transmission to its ability to identify and isolate individuals who are sick with the respiratory disease and the success of the ongoing vaccination campaign.

According to the FCHD vaccine data dashboard, 743,038 Fairfax Health District residents have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. That is 62.8% of the overall population and three out of every four adults (75.1%). 651,344 residents — 66.5% of adults and 55% of the total population — have been fully vaccinated.

“While we still have work to do and need those unvaccinated to continue to be diligent and wear masks, Fairfax County has made incredible strides in our vaccination efforts,” Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said in a newsletter on Friday, reporting that there is only one zip code in the county with a vaccination rate under 70%.

McKay announced that the county flag outside the Fairfax County Government Center has returned to full mast to reflect the end of Virginia’s COVID-19 State of Emergency at the beginning of July. The county’s state of emergency remains in place, however.

County health officials also warn that COVID-19 case levels could surge, particularly among people who have not been vaccinated, due to the spread of variants. The Delta variant first detected in India is considered the biggest current threat.

As of July 2, Northern Virginia had recorded 596 infections caused by variants of concern, including 17 cases confirmed to come from the Delta variant. That variant, which has proven especially contagious, now accounts for more than one in every five cases nationwide, according to the FCHD.

The county health department says studies suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized in the U.S. “remain very effective against the Delta variant.”

“Vaccination remains the best tool in preventing a Delta surge,” Fairfax County Director of Epidemiology and Population Health Director Dr. Benjamin Schwartz said in a statement. “This virus can take advantage of any cracks in our defenses. For those who have not yet gotten vaccinated, I urge you to do so. Your actions will keep us on the road to recovery from the pandemic.”

Fairfax County residents can find sites offering COVID-19 vaccinations through vaccines.gov or the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).

0 Comments

Morning Notes

Fountains outside The Verse condos in The Boro (photo by John G. Colby)

Capital One Adopts Hybrid Work Model — The founder and CEO of Capital One, which employs almost 10,000 people in the D.C. area, told workers yesterday (Tuesday) that its U.S. offices, including its headquarters in Tysons, will reopen on Sept. 7. The company will shift to a hybrid model where employees can work virtually on Mondays and Fridays with no requirements for how many days they need to be in the office. [WTOP]

Traffic Calming Measures Coming to Vienna and McLean — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted last Tuesday (June 22) to approve the installation of “$200 Additional Fine for Speeding” signs along Vaden Drive between I-66 and Lee Highway near the Vienna Metro station. The county will also spend $40,000 to install four speed humps on Churchill Road in McLean. [Sun Gazette/Inside NoVA]

Founders Row Apartments Start Preleasing — The 322-unit Modera apartment building and 72-unit Verso senior living complex in Falls Church City’s Founders Row development are now preleasing in anticipation of opening later this year. The site will also host a six-story, mixed-use building with ground-floor retail and a movie theater, and a second phase is currently in the works. [Mill Creek Residential/PR Newswire]

Falls Church Among Healthiest U.S. Communities — The City of Falls Church came in third in U.S. News & World Report’s fourth annual Healthiest Communities rankings, the same spot that it has occupied for the last two years. Fairfax County made the top 15 at No. 14. [Patch]

0 Comments
Coronavirus illustration (via CDC on Unsplash)

A June that generally provided reason for optimism comes to a close with the Fairfax Health District almost doubling its COVID-19 case total for the month over the past week.

The district, which includes Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church, has added 103 new cases since June 1 for an all-time total of 78,104 cases, but 66 of those cases came in the last seven days, including four today (Monday), according to Virginia Department of Health data.

However, the district’s hospitalization total stayed flat from last Monday (June 21) at 4,137 people.

VDH data shows that two people were hospitalized by the disease caused by the novel coronavirus in the past week — one county resident and one Falls Church City resident — but both jursidictions also subtracted a case in the same time period, resulting in a net-zero increase.

Five more people died from COVID-19 in the last week, bringing the district’s overall death total up to 1,141 people.

Fairfax County COVID-19 cases over past 90 days as of June 28, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)
Fairfax County COVID-19 hospitalizations as of June 28, 2021 (via Virginia Department of Health)

An Associated Press analysis of national health data from May found that just 0.1% of new COVID-19 hospitalizations and 0.8% of deaths were people who had been fully vaccinated, suggesting that the mortality rate would now be almost zero if everyone eligible for vaccination got the shot.

The Fairfax County Health Department did not return Tysons Reporter’s query about whether the county is seeing the same trend of unvaccinated people accounting for nearly all hospitalizations and deaths by publication time.

As of this morning, 1.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to Fairfax Health District residents. 737,991 residents — 74.7% of adults and 62.4% of the total population — have gotten at least one shot, and 644,361 residents — 66% of adults and 54.4% of the total population — are fully vaccinated, according to the FCHD dashboard.

Statewide, about half (50.5%) of Virginia’s population is now fully vaccinated, including 61.4% of people 18 and older. 70.9% of adults or 58.7% of the overall population have received at least one vaccine dose.

In addition to lowering the risk of hospitalization and death, the COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for use in the U.S. can provide protection from variants of the virus that could spread more easily or cause more severe illness, according to VDH.

VDH announced last Tuesday (June 22) that it has added the Delta variant to its Varients of Concern dashboard, which tracks mutations that are considered to pose a greater risk to human health.

The Delta variant contributed to India’s devastating second wave of the pandemic and has been linked to surges elsewhere, including the United Kingdom and Australia, leading some countries to reimpose public health restrictions.

As of Friday (June 25), when the dashboard was last updated, Virginia had recorded 48 cases of the delta variant, including 15 in Northern Virginia, but VDH says the actual number of cases is likely higher since not all positive samples are tested to determine the strain of the virus.

“To protect yourself and others, get vaccinated for COVID-19,” VDH said in its news release. “Until you are fully vaccinated, continue wearing a mask correctly, stay at least six feet from others outside of your household, avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and wash your hands often…The best way to stop variant strains from developing in the first place is to stop the spread of the virus.”

Photo via CDC on Unsplash

0 Comments

While a large percentage of Fairfax County residents have received their COVID-19 vaccine, there are still ongoing efforts to help — and convince — those who have not yet gotten the vaccine.

Nearly three quarters — 73.7% to be exact — of all Fairfax County Health District residents over the age of 18 have had at least their first shot, which is actually above Virginia as a whole.

About 65% of residents are considered fully vaccinated, meaning at least two weeks have passed since they received their final shot.

However, those statistics do not take in account those who got their vaccine through federal sources, such as the defense and veterans’ affairs departments, notes Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay.

“We remain committed to making vaccine as easily as possible to obtain for those in our community who want it,” he wrote in a statement.

While the days of supply scarcity long gone, some people still remain reluctant or hesitant to get vaccinated for a variety of reasons.

About 7.5% of county residents answered that they were “unsure,” “probably not,” or “definitely not” going to get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a federal survey distributed in late May and early June.

To help address hesitancy, public officials and businesses have developed several incentive programs, like free baseball tickets and Krispy Kreme donuts, though Virginia is not offering cash or lottery incentives like other states.

Now that a majority of county residents are vaccinated overall, McKay says the county’s goal is to vaccinate at least 70% of adults in every neighborhood, and it has turned to a variety of methods, from a regional, multimedia awareness campaign to partnerships with local businesses and nonprofits, in its effort to hit that target.

“Community partners continue to offer up space for vaccination clinic sites, with community leaders urging the importance of getting vaccinated,” McKay said. “I have always said that we would only get through the COVID-19 pandemic together and am proud that our Fairfax County community continues to get us closer to that goal.”

For many residents, getting vaccinated is more a question of access than desire.

In recent months, the county and state health departments have set up several community vaccine centers, including one in an abandoned Lord & Taylor, and equity clinics. The county is even offering free transportation to some via the Fairfax Connector. Fairfax County Public Schools also hosted a series of vaccine clinics over several weeks.

Child care can be another barrier to access, so a number of companies are offering free child care to those getting the vaccine or recovering from it.

In total, the Fairfax County Health Department says it has held 307 vaccine equity clinics since February with an additional 23 clinics scheduled for the remainder of this month.

Mobile clinics are also still occuring and ongoing in partnership with George Mason University’s Mason and Partners mobile vaccination unit.

However, some clinics and access points are shutting down in the coming weeks as the vaccine becomes more widely available. For example, the Tysons mass vaccination site is slated to close on Saturday (June 26) and the FCPS clinics ended on June 10.

“Our outreach team and community health workers continue to work with community partners to provide vaccine education, identify potential vaccination clinic sites and help residents navigate the vaccination process,” an FCHD official wrote. “While the Tysons Community Vaccination Center is closing June 26, the Government Center remains open and will continue to offer walk-in service.”

The spokesperson also highlighted that vaccine supplies remain high and available through a number of expanding options, including private health care providers, pharmacies, and grocery stores.

Of course, getting the remaining portion of the population vaccinated isn’t only a county challenge, but a nationwide one as well.

Just today (Tuesday), U.S. officials admitted that the country is not going to hit the White House-stated goal of at least 70% of American adults having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list