February 26, 2021

Dear Neighbor,

Before the weekend begins, I wanted to share some late-breaking new information related to the COVID-19 vaccine in Fairfax County. The following updates were recently released by the Health Department:

These articles provide additional transparency into the County's vaccine rollout. Some of the key takeaways are:

  • All COVID-19 vaccines are free -- even if vaccinators request your insurance information. Learn more below.

  • As of today, February 26, approximately 63% of the people who registered on January 18 have either been vaccinated or offered an appointment.

  • When people receive their vaccine at the Health Department, they are given a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card. The date on the back of your vaccination record card is NOT an appointment date. Rather, it is the date when you are eligible to receive your second dose.

Many of you have contacted me to share your frustrations with the vaccine program at our retail pharmacies, some of which are still not integrated with Fairfax's registration system. I'm happy to share that Braddock District's Congressman Gerry Connolly recently led the Northern Virginia Congressional Delegation in requesting that the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program integrate their vaccination registration system with the already-existing waitlists maintained by both state and local health departments. This would allow more equitable distribution of the vaccine and enhance the capacity and capability to distribute the vaccine to groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19 at the local level.
Yours in service,
Supervisor James Walkinshaw
What You Need to Know About the Free Vaccine, Health Insurance, and
Admin Fees
ALL COVID-19 Vaccines Are FREE
The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States. No one will have to pay any fees for the vaccine.

Vaccinators Can Charge an “Administrative Fee” to Insurance
Providing COVID-19 vaccines in a clinic setting is not without cost to the provider. So, the federal government allows vaccine providers to be reimbursed for vaccine administration fees by a person’s public or private insurance company. It helps to defray costs associated with this increased service.

This is why some vaccine providers might ask for insurance information – it is so they can collect the administrative fee. No one will be charged any out-of-pocket expenses by a vaccinator or by insurance.

Not All Vaccinators Ask for Health Insurance Information – But Don’t Let It Stop You if They Do
There are multiple vaccine partners in the Fairfax Health District who are helping in the monumental task of getting all eligible individuals vaccinated, including pharmacies and medical providers. Each might have its own registration process, which may or may not include an ask for insurance information.

Regardless of the provider’s registration process, it is important that you complete it and take the steps to be vaccinated. If you have questions or concerns about the registration, you can always call the vaccine provider.

Uninsured Follow the Same Path to Vaccination as the Insured
People who do not have health insurance follow the exact same process to get vaccinated as those who have insurance. If your vaccine provider requests insurance information but you do not have it, just say so. Being uninsured has zero impact on your ability to be vaccinated.

Currently in the Fairfax Health District, phase 1a and some groups in phase 1b are eligible for vaccination. If you are eligible, please register on Fairfax County's COVID-19 Website.

Note on Who is Providing Vaccines:
As we've noted before, the Fairfax Health Department is partnering with providers and pharmacies such as Inova, Trusted Doctors, My Dr, and Giant. Those vaccinators are serving individuals registered with the Fairfax Health Department.

Other providers such as CVS and Safeway are independently scheduling vaccinations using the supply from the federal partnership, and they are not working off of the Fairfax Health Department's queue.
New FAQs About COVID-19
How Much Progress Has Been Made on Scheduling Appointments for People Who Registered on Jan. 18?
January 18 was the day that had the highest registrations in the Health Department's queue for vaccinations. As of February 26, approximately 63% of the people who registered on January 18 have either been vaccinated or offered an appointment. Please note that this percentage can change due to data cleanup and people being removed from their waitlist.
Why Does the Number of People Registered on the Dashboard Occasionally Change?
The Health Department is constantly reviewing the County's waitlist and performing data cleanup to ensure the list is accurate. Sometimes the numbers decline because people on the County list have been vaccinated elsewhere and have asked to be removed from the queue. Other times, people are removed due to invalid data entered when they registered (such as entering a date of birth that indicates they are under 16 years old). Please note that nobody will be removed without being contacted first to verify the information was not entered in error.

Periodically, the numbers may rise as we identify issues with registrations not being correctly captured in the system due to technical errors. When this happens, we restore those registrations to the date when the person registered, which affects the numbers shown on the dashboard. That was the case this week for approximately 2,800 total registrations.

What If I Registered Before Jan. 18 and Haven’t Received an Appointment?
Please check your information on the status checker. If you have questions about your registration, call (703) 324-7404 or email ffxcovid@fairfaxcounty.gov.

Why Can’t I Get the Exact Number I Am in the Queue?
Although appointments are generally scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis based on the date and time people registered, Fairfax County also adheres to Virginia Department of Health guidelines on how doses should be administered. Roughly half of the Health Department's supply each week is used to vaccinate people 65 and older, and the other half is allocated for people eligible in the other categories, including individuals 16-64 with a high-risk medical condition; frontline essential workers (such as teachers, childcare staff and public safety employees; and people living in correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

Therefore, it is difficult to provide an exact queue number because appointments are pulled to meet the requirements above. The routine data cleanup issues discussed above also contribute to queue numbers fluctuating periodically.
Understanding the Dates on Your
COVID-19 Vaccination Record
When people receive their vaccine at the Health Department, they are given a COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, which is just a bit larger than a standard business card. The nurse who gives the shot fills this card out for you. The front side of the card will include your name, date of birth, the manufacturer and lot number of vaccine provided, the date the vaccine was given, and the location.

Once the nurse has filled out the first side of the card, she or he will flip the card over and write down the date when you are eligible for your second dose. Depending on the vaccine, this date will be either three weeks or four weeks later. The date on the back of your vaccination record card is NOT an appointment date. Rather, it is the date when you are eligible to receive your second dose.

That date on the back of your card is the earliest recommended date to receive your second dose. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, second doses administered within a grace period of four days earlier than the recommended date for the second dose are still considered valid. The second dose should be administered as close to the recommended interval as possible. However, if it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval and a delay in vaccination is unavoidable, the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines may be administered up to six weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

If you receive vaccine at the Health Department, you will be contacted four to seven days before the date on the back side of your card to schedule your second dose. Since all vaccine is administered by appointment only, it is important that you wait for the invitation to schedule. Do not show up at the vaccination site without a scheduled appointment. It is possible that you may be invited to get your second dose at a different location where you received your first dose.

Be sure to bring your vaccination card with you to your second appointment. The nurse will review it, then write in the manufacturer and lot number along with the date when you receive your second dose. Hold on to your card or take a picture of it. This is your documentation that you’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19. Your medical health care provider may request to see it to update your medical health records.
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