February 4, 2021: Following the most recent vaccination updates from Governor Northam, the County Executive Office notified the Board that the Prince William Health District (which reports to Virginia Department of Health rather than directly to the county) is working to incorporate this latest state guidance into local vaccine distribution efforts.
This adjusted plan will be outlined in a presentation to the Board on Tuesday, February 9, and will include data requested from the Health District during last week’s meeting. They are also working with the Health District on a mechanism that will allow for the Board to receive this information on an ongoing basis. Please note, that with approximately half of Virginians eligible for the vaccine, and supplies limited, it will take several months to fully vaccinate everybody on the waitlist for groups 1a and 1b.
As new vaccination centers come online, so do new logistical challenges to be worked out. There was an issue with Harris Teeter and their online scheduler tool. The Health District is working with Harris Teeter to provide vaccinations using the PWHD waitlist; however, there the an inadvertent error in Harris Teeter’s online scheduler tool caused appointments to be made for a vaccine clinic that did not exist. Harris Teeter was able to notify affected individuals.
In good news, the Health District is ready to administer approximately 2,500 vaccines at Beacon Hall next week, and another 3,600 at Potomac Middle School. The County also continues to ramp up resources for the call center in order to get as many people as possible on the waitlist into appointments and allow call takers the opportunity to respond to those residents calling in.
To do this most effectively requires approximately 140 operators. Each call takes approximately 7 minutes; and there are approximately 45,000 people currently on the waitlist. The Library System has fully stepped up to help with these efforts. They are using some of their facilities and librarians to help shore up call center operations. Therefore, the library facilities are closed to the public; however, some of the community libraries, including Chinn, will still be doing curbside pickup. It is important to note that we are managing the call center operations with county resources; no state or federal dollars were provided for this critical operation.
Additionally, the Health District reached out to Novant, who has agreed to vaccinate those already on the waitlist who is 16-17 years of age with one of the underlying conditions outlined by the CDC. Novant will get the names of those on the waitlist and will reach out to them in groups of five and reserve appointment spots for them. No public action is required, as Novant will solely work off the existing waitlist, and inquiries made to Novant by residents could hinder the registration process.
Also, we have received several questions from people asking where they are on the list and when they will be able to get their vaccine. Unfortunately, we cannot tell people when they will be able to get an appointment because the registration number that people receive is an ID number and is not a direct correlation to their position on the list. The appointments are booked from the waitlist based on the priority order and guidelines established by the Governor and the Virginia Department of Health, and then by time stamp of when they registered. It also depends on the number of vaccines the Health District receives each week.
For this reason, once on the waitlist, it may take several weeks to be contacted with an appointment time. As mentioned above, efforts to circumvent this process can slowdown the massive effort underway. Once a registration number is received, we urge residents to please exercise patience and know that they will be contacted as soon as vaccine is available for them based on the stated criteria.
Last, but not least, due to several factors, including decreased demand and weather events, the County has reduced mobile test sites from 11 to 7 locations per week. We have seen a 60 percent decrease in demand over the last month. Each of our designated mobile sites are being visited once per week and our test capacity remains the same at 200 tests per day. We are closely monitoring the situation and plan to adjust accordingly.