Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation have asked the acting director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to choose Northern Virginia as a mass vaccination site for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Reps. Don Beyer, Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton said in a letter to Acting Administrator Robert Fenton that “Northern Virginia already has the capacity” to administer many more vaccine doses than it has been.
“For example, Arlington County is receiving roughly 2,700 doses per week but has the capacity to do at least 1,000 per day,” they wrote.
The representatives also said the desire to get vaccinated is there, saying that Alexandria, population 160,000, has a vaccine waiting list of 25,000, and Fairfax County’s waiting list is over 100,000.
“Staffing is not the limiting factor, supply is,” the representatives wrote.
Aaron Fritschner, Beyer’s communications director, told WTOP that many other areas of the country have additional logistical problems regarding getting vaccines into people, such as shortages of supplies.
“Here,” he said, “the only problem is that we don’t have enough vaccines.”
“We have the people; we have the interest. There are high school football stadiums, there are places you can do this,” Fritschner added.
At the same time, a group of local leaders has done much the same on the state level.
The Northern Virginia Regional Commission has written to Gov. Ralph Northam, looking for more doses of vaccines, saying that they had already vaccinated 100,000 people in their area and could do much more.
The commission includes the board chairs of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, as well as the mayors of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, Middleburg and Vienna.
The letter, emailed to Northam on Sunday and posted to Facebook on Tuesday, said, “We need a streamlined process to release doses directly to NOVA, provide the ability to detail who has doses and finally allow our region priority as we are ready and able to vaccinate significant numbers now. Simply put, the problem is a sufficient, predictable and equitable supply of vaccine.”
By the end of last week, they said, about 100,000 people in the region had been vaccinated in total, and they claimed that they could do that every week.
Alena Yarmosky, Northam’s spokeswoman, said in a statement: “The Governor shares the frustration in Northern Virginia — and across the commonwealth — that the national vaccine supply is currently so limited.”
She said 100,000 doses is roughly the number of doses the entire commonwealth gets in a week, and it’s about a third of what Virginia’s local health departments put in for.
“The governor is working closely with President Biden and his team as they ramp up production,” the statement reads, “now that we have a partner in Washington, we’re hopeful that supply will increase in the coming weeks.”
She added that Virginia has given out nearly 7,000 doses per 100,000 people, better than 24 states, including neighboring Maryland, Tennessee and North Carolina. She also said Northam would address the issue of vaccine distribution in a news conference Wednesday.
Fritschner, from Beyer’s office, said of the letter, “We are all trying to do the same thing, which is to increase the vaccine supply in Northern Virginia.”
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.
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