More health care workers are starting to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Hospitals in the county began giving frontline workers the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine last week, and on Monday, Loudoun County’s government started administering shots of the Moderna vaccine to additional health care staff at a vaccination site in Sterling.
The county government has received an initial allocation of 2,000 doses of vaccine, and more will be coming.
“Our role is to (vaccinate) those folks who are not affiliated with a hospital and not affiliated with a long term care facility, because the pharmacies are taking care of the long term care facilities,” said Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department. He was among those who rolled up a sleeve and got vaccinated Monday.
Also among the first to be vaccinated by the county — if they choose — are members of the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Fire & Rescue Department.
James Williams, assistant chief of operations with the county Fire and Rescue Department, got his first shot Monday.
“Simple. Barely felt it,” he said after receiving the vaccine. “My hope is that with starting the vaccinations, more people will jump on board so that we can help turn the corner on the pandemic.”
Goodfriend said once the fire and rescue personnel who want to get their shots do so, many more people will get them.
“Everybody…who works in a doctor’s office, home health aides, people who work in a health care setting and may come in contact either with a COVID-19 patient or contaminated materials that they have. So it could be cleaning staff that work in a doctor’s office. They’re eligible as well.”
Eligible health care workers are being asked to sign up to receive the vaccine, and as more doses are delivered, more will be given out.
What has the response been so far?
“The folks here that I’ve talked to were eager to get it. We’re getting a lot of responses from our health care providers, who are very eager to get it,” Goodfriend said.
The indoor vaccination site set up by the county allows for plenty of social distancing, but more tweaks are possible.
“We and all jurisdictions in the National Capital Region have had plans to mass vaccinate since H1N1 (swine flu), but those plans had lots of people coming through in crowded high schools, packed together. We can’t do that with COVID,” Goodfriend said.
He said the county has had to rethink its vaccination plan in order to make sure its lines are separated, vaccinators are separated and that when people are waiting afterwards to make sure they don’t have a reaction, that they also are separated.
On top of all that, Goodfriend said that the county is working to ensure there’s good air flow and they’re cycling people through quickly.
Even as the vaccine is rolled out to more and more people, Goodfriend said it’s critical to continue doing the things we’ve been doing to keep safe: wearing masks, physical distancing and keeping social groups to a minimum.
“Back in March, when things were starting to get bad with the virus and we had to go to lockdown, there really was no end in sight at that point. Now we do have the light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s a long tunnel, and it’s going to take months to get to that end, but this is a start,” said Goodfriend.
“It’s going to be several months to get everybody done, and the next couple months are just going to be tougher with COVID than we’ve seen so far.”
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