Information provide from Supervisor Letourneau on Jan 15th.
Loudoun Health Department Launches Online Vaccine Pre-Screening Survey; Adds Adults 65+ to Phase 1b
As I wrote last week, the Virginia Health Department (and its Loudoun County branch) has the sole responsibility for vaccination distribution in Virginia. There are now two pods active in Loudoun set up by the Health Department (one specifically for teachers, and one for others that are eligible) in a large space leased by the Health Department with the assistance of the County.
Together, vaccine distribution capacity has increased from about 500 per day to closer to 1200 – 1300 per day in Loudoun (not including distribution by private providers.) The Health Department is also working with the County to acquire additional space.
As I wrote last week, VDH’s plan is for private providers to ultimately be the main distribution point for vaccinations (rather than the County Health Departments, which have limited resources). Some other counties have the benefit of private partners stepping in and essentially taking over all distribution, such as Valley Health System in the Lord Fairfax Health District. That has not happened in Loudoun yet, though not for lack of effort by the Loudoun Health Department.
Regardless of who is distributing the vaccine, the major impediment remains availability. There is some confusion on this point because VDH reports far more vaccines “distributed” than “administered,” which is leading some to believe that the vaccine is just sort of sitting there waiting to be utilized. These numbers are deceiving for a few reasons:
1) They include vaccines distributed to hospitals and healthcare providers. Those are on a different system than County Health Departments and reporting occurs differently, meaning there is a major lag in reporting the actual number of doses administered by those providers. The County Health Department has no insight into how many doses have gone to those providers.
2) Doses are good for up to 10 days. In order to have any kind of functional distribution pod, there must be a supply several times greater than the number of doses administered. For instance, if 1200 doses are being administered today, then in order to schedule vaccinations for the next 5 days, 6,000 doses must be available. Therefore, the system will report that 6,000 doses were distributed but only 1200 administered for today.
The bottom line for Loudoun is that the Health Department has assured us that every dose that is distributed is being administered. Period. There are no wasted doses. There is now a backlog of many thousands of citizens that have signed up this week to get a vaccine and the Health Department is working through that backlog as quickly as it can.
The County today issued a news release about a new process to sign up for the vaccine. The release is below. You will notice that the Health Department is not able to schedule any additional appointments as of right now because all the vaccines they have are spoken for by those who signed up this week (and in fact more vaccines are needed to handle those sign ups).
The Commonwealth of Virginia announced on January 14, 2021, that Virginia would follow federal guidelines issued earlier this week and move adults aged 65 and older from Phase 1c into Phase 1b. This change also moves people aged 16 through 64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19 into Phase 1b.
Today, the Loudoun County Health Department will begin requiring all requests for the vaccine by individuals and organizations that are in the Phase 1a and Phase 1b priority groups to submit an online pre-screening survey. Requests for the vaccine will no longer be accepted by email, as previously announced. Only those who do not have access to the internet may call the Health Department’s COVID-19 hotline.
Currently, the Health Department continues to accept requests for vaccination from only people who are in the Phase 1a and Phase 1b vaccination priority groups. At this time, supplies of the vaccine in Loudoun remain limited. There are significantly more requests for the vaccine than there are vaccine doses available. As a result, the Health Department cannot schedule additional appointments at this time; however, the online pre-screening survey may be submitted by people in Phase 1a or Phase 1b and when additional vaccine supplies arrive in Loudoun, additional appointments can be offered.
Who is Eligible in Phase 1b as of January 15?
Phase 1b now includes front-line essential workers, persons aged 65 years and older, people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, and people aged 16 through 64 years with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Please note that while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated that teens aged 16 to 18 who have underlying medical conditions are eligible, the Loudoun County Health Department is currently accepting pre-screening vaccination surveys from adults 18 and older because the Health Department’s supply of the vaccine – the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine – is approved for only those 18 and older.
In addition to those 65 and over and those age 18 to 64 with medical conditions, the Health Department will schedule appointments – when available – for members of the 1b front-line essential worker group in the following order, which is required by the Virginia Department of Health (VDH):
- Police, fire and hazmat workers
- Corrections and homeless shelter workers
- Child care/K-12 teachers/staff
- Food and agriculture workers
- Manufacturing workers
- Grocery store workers
- Public transit workers
- Mail carriers (USPS and private)
- Officials needed to maintain continuity of government
Concurrently, people aged 65 and over and adults 18 and over with high-risk medical conditions are also included in Loudoun’s Phase 1b. This population is prioritized to receive vaccine at the same time as the front-line workers listed above.
The Health Department is coordinating special vaccination events for law enforcement, fire and hazmat, corrections and homeless shelter workers, public school employees, and local government workers. There is no need for individuals working in these sectors to contact the Health Department to schedule appointments.
How to Sign Up for a COVID-19 Vaccine
Many members of the Phase 1a and 1b priority groups may be enrolled for vaccination by their employers; this is the most efficient way of getting signed up for vaccinations. Employers, members of the 1a and 1b groups who have not been contacted by their employers, residents over the age of 65, and adults with high risk medical conditions may begin the process for scheduling an appointment by contacting the Loudoun County Health Department in one of two ways:
1) Complete this online pre-screen survey. The fastest and most efficient method to obtain an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine is to submit the online form. This form verifies your eligibility and provides your contact information. After submitting the form, it may take days to weeks before you receive a response because the Health Department is currently not scheduling appointments, as vaccine supplies are limited. As more vaccines arrive in Loudoun, additional appointments will be made and those who have submitted the online pre-screening survey will be offered vaccination appointments in priority order. Please be patient; once you submit an online pre-screening survey, there is no need to call the Health Department.
2) If you do not have access to the internet, you may call Loudoun County’s COVID-19 information line at 703-737-8300 between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. Due to significant call volume, there may be a delay in reaching an operator.
NOTE: The Health Department is no longer accepting emails to request vaccination appointments. Any email requests will not result in an appointment. Anyone who emails the Health Department will be re-directed to the online pre-screening survey.
Where Will I Get the Vaccine?
Right now, because supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine are limited in Loudoun County, the Health Department has scheduled only a limited number of appointments. The Health Department is coordinating the expansion of vaccination opportunities to include other providers in the community, including employer-based clinics, doctors’ offices and health care providers, and local pharmacies. As vaccine supplies in Loudoun increase and more and more providers offer the vaccine, Loudoun County ultimately will not be the primary provider of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Sign Up to Receive Alerts
Additional information about the ongoing vaccination efforts will be published as it becomes available. To stay informed about when it is your turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, you should sign up to receive text or email updates about COVID-19 from Loudoun County:
- Text LCCOVID19 to 888777 to receive text alerts in English.
- Text LCCOVIDESP to 888777 to receive text alerts in Spanish.
- Sign up for email and text updates on COVID-19 in Notify Me, Blogs category, “Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Follow Loudoun County on Facebook and Twitter.
- Visit the county’s website, loudoun.gov/coronavirus.
Stay Vigilant in Slowing the Spread of COVID-19
Before and after Loudoun residents receive a COVID-19 vaccine, everyone is encouraged to continue taking the steps that help prevent the spread of the disease, including washing hands frequently, wearing face coverings, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings of people and staying home when sick. Learn more about COVID-19 prevention and care on the county’s website.
For more information about COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Loudoun County, visit loudoun.gov/COVID19vaccine.