Behind the headlines of the past week about the mob of insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol is a glimmer of positive news about how the COVID-19 vaccination process is gaining momentum, including here in Loudoun County, after a bumpy first month.
A greater sense of urgency has taken hold in Virginia as the state begins to allow additional priority groups of people to get vaccinated under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
On Wednesday, during his State of the Commonwealth address in Richmond, Gov. Ralph Northam said he has set a goal of getting 25,000 vaccine doses per day injected into people’s upper arms as soon as possible.
Let’s hope we reach the governor’s daily goal soon because the rate of vaccinations will need to far exceed 25,000 per day for all Virginians, who want to get vaccinated, to receive their vaccine shots by summer.
“While it is a massive undertaking and it will take some months to get to everyone, I promise your turn is coming and soon,” Northam said in his address.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, nearly 200,000 people in the state have received one dose of the vaccine as of Wednesday and 23,000 people have been fully vaccinated.
In Loudoun County, more than 8,300 people have received one dose of the vaccine while 822 people have been fully vaccinated.
Residents and staff at the Spring Arbor senior living facility in Leesburg, under the leadership of Eileen Anatra, the facility’s executive director, are moving closer to getting vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine.
Last week, the facility held is first vaccine clinic for its 80 residents through Walgreens. The second round of vaccinations will occur at Spring Arbor on Jan. 28 followed by a third clinic on Feb. 18 for the final group of residents and staff to get their booster shots.
“It’s very exciting, but it’s a lot of prep,” Anatra told the Times-Mirror about the long hours she has put into working with Walgreens to conduct the vaccine clinics.
The vaccination is coming at a perfect time for Spring Arbor: Anatra is hoping it prevents anyone at the facility, resident or staff, from contracting COVID-19, since the start of the pandemic in March.
“We have been one of the very few senior living facilities that have not had any residents get cases through this,” she said. “We worked really hard to not have any cases in here. I need this vaccine so that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Spring Arbor’s clean record of no coronavirus cases has put a different kind of stress on Anatra and her colleagues, she said.
“Clearly, it’s a stress to have cases. But it’s also a stress not to have cases because you’re always waiting for that other shoe to drop given how high the numbers are,” Anatra said. “So far, we have made it without any cases.”
Along with the Phase 1a priority groups at facilities such as Spring Arbor, people in Phase 1b in jurisdictions across Northern Virginia are now eligible to sign up to get the vaccine, including K-12 teachers and staff.
Vaccinating teachers and other K-12 staff is an important step in getting schools open, Northam said Wednesday night.
At a time of widespread nervousness in D.C. and Virginia about future attacks by armed extremists, it’s good to know that leaders at senior living facilities and in government have not diverted their attention from getting Virginians vaccinated as quickly as possible.