Northern Virginia's top government leaders have asked Gov. Ralph Northam for more COVID-19 vaccines and more flexibility in determining how they are distributed.
In a letter to Northam on Friday, the leaders said the region's five health districts have over 340,000 people registered on waiting lists for vaccines and have the capacity to administer tens of thousands more vaccines that the region is currently receiving.
"We stand ready to meet your expectation that everyone, even those who have not yet registered, will have a place in line six weeks from now, but we will need more doses immediately to make that reality," said the letter, referring to the May 1 deadline set by President Joe Biden. The letter was signed by the chairs of the Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William boards of supervisors, as well as the mayor of Alexandria and the chair of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which has been coordinating the region's response to the pandemic.
Bob Lazaro, executive director of the commission, said the region's leaders had a phone call later Friday with Dr. Danny Avula, the state's vaccine coordinator, and that he was receptive to the leaders' concerns and would work with local health districts to get more vaccines into the region.
According to Virginia Department of Health data, about 753,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Northern Virginia, with about 271,000 of the region's residents fully vaccinated. That represents just over 11% of the region's 2.3 million residents and is slightly less than the state's average of about 13% of residents fully vaccinated.
Northern Virginia vaccination progress (March 22, 2021)
|Locality||Total Doses Administered||One dose||Two doses||Fully Vaccinated per 100,000 residents|
The letter pointed out the region's preparations for additional doses of vaccines, including a mass vaccination clinic planned by Inova, Fairfax County and the city of Alexandria, which will be able to deliver 84,000 doses a week.
Including that clinic, the region has capacity to deliver 224,000 doses a week, and that does not include a community vaccination clinic that will open Tuesday at the former Gander Mountain store near Potomac Mills in Woodbridge. That clinic, which will operate this week from Tuesday until Saturday, is expected to be able to deliver about 3,000 doses a day. It is being run by the state under a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The letter to Northam also outlined the region's efforts to ensure vaccine equity, noting that the region is nearly a majority-minority community. A higher proportion of early vaccinations -- both statewide and in Northern Virginia -- have gone to white residents, in part because they make up a larger portion of the groups targeted in initial phases of the rollout, such as residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
The letter asked Northam to allow the health districts in the region flexibility to prioritize equity after completing vaccines in the Tier 1(b) group, which includes many essential workers. That group is expected to be completed by early to mid-April.
"We request the Commonwealth allow the Northern Virginia Health Directors to govern how we administer vaccinations from this date forward, both to ensure speed and equity," the letter said. "We take seriously, as do you, the commitment to communities that have been disproportionately impacted."