Arlington County seniors question why they are not getting vaccine priority the same way as others

Some FOX 5 viewers in Arlington County told us Wednesday they’re worried they’ll be waiting a long time before getting a COVID-19 vaccine, let alone an appointment.

"I’m starting to think about, ‘Oh my gosh, my friends are going to be out at each other’s houses having dinner and I’m going to be sitting here waiting for a vaccine,’" said Melinda Patrician.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

Patrician who is 70 years old said she took her concern to social media inquiring about why people who are aged 65 and over are not being prioritized in the same way that Arlington County is prioritizing seniors who are 75 and over.

"What I want to know is ‘Have you (Arlington County) made a different decision to split the 65 to 75 and 75 plus groups up and if so why? Is that a public health decision?’" Patrician asked. "I get that, but that’s all I was looking for. I know that there are people in Arlington and our health departments around the country that are scrambling."

Residents who are 65 to 74 years of age and 16 to 64 with a high-risk medical condition or disability can pre-register online to be notified when appointments become available. Patrician said she and her husband have both registered with the state and the county and are just waiting.

Patrician said she has friends within the same age group who live in Fairfax and in Alexandria. She claimed that those friends have been getting vaccinated but could not understand why Arlington was not doing the same.

FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan verified her claim.

According to the official websites for both Fairfax and Alexandria, the two jurisdictions have given priority to groups 1A and 1B. 1B includes people who are 65 and older. 

Ayesha also inquired with the Arlington Department of Human Services.

Cara O’Donnell, acting public information officer said that when Virginia Hospital Center canceled the scheduled vaccination appointments of more than 3,000 Arlington residents aged 75 and over, the county needed to prioritize getting those appointments rescheduled. 

O’Donnell said that the county has now contacted all of those residents and is rescheduling those appointments as well as those in the priority essential employer groups. 

"Of course, we understand our residents’ eagerness to receive the vaccine, but currently, Arlington Public Health is only receiving 2750 first dose vaccines per week," she said. "We hope to expand to additional priority 1b groups in the coming weeks."

When asked about when Arlington residents who are 65 and older may hear from the county about getting an appointment, O’Donnell said she could not speculate.

"We simply don’t know what our vaccine allotment will be going forward," she said, "as supply increases, we have the capacity to vaccinate up to 1,000 to 2,000 a day. We just need the doses to put into arms."

O’Donnell continued to say that the county has information for all the people who have pre-registered including people 65 and over.

"We are getting to as many people as we possibly can each week with the supply we have available," she said.

O’Donnell also noted that according to a study from Carnegie Mellon University, Arlington County was one of the highest jurisdictions of vaccine interest in the country – 92 percent of the population has said they want the vaccine.