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Demand soars at Fairfax County COVID-19 vaccine sites offering shots for young kids

A kid gets their first COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Fairfax County Government Center’s clinic (courtesy Fairfax County Health Department)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The Fairfax County Government Center’s COVID-19 vaccine site has reached capacity for the day, as families across Northern Virginia rush to get their youngest kids inoculated.

The Fairfax County Health Department announced just before noon that it’s no longer accepting new appointments at the government center today (Wednesday), citing the high demand.

The county was among just a handful of places in Northern Virginia to make the newly authorized vaccines for kids under 5 available as soon as yesterday (Tuesday), according to FCHD spokesperson Lucy Caldwell.

Neighboring Arlington County, for example, only made them available today and is requiring scheduled appointments.

“We are delighted with the demand we’ve seen so far,” Caldwell told FFXnow, noting that the government center has been “very popular” over the past two days. “Our county health department staff have planned for this for months.”

With the health department’s current staffing levels, the government center has the capacity to administer 500 to 600 shots per day.

The county is also offering both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for young kids at its South County Government Center clinic (8350 Richmond Highway). Walk-ins at both sites are welcome, but FCHD warns that it is seeing long wait times for walk-in service.

In general, COVID-19 vaccine appointments can be scheduled through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Vaccine Administration Management System, but federal staff have run into some issues with updating the system to reflect the latest expansion of eligibility, according to FCHD.

“We are waiting for those updates to be made and have been told they will be in place this evening,” Caldwell said.

The Food and Drug Administration and CDC gave their support to Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines for kids as young as 6 months of age last week, opening eligibility for vaccination up to nearly 69,000 more Fairfax Health District residents.

The Moderna vaccine is for kids up to 6 years old and requires two doses spaced four to eight weeks apart. Pfizer’s three-dose regimen is targeted toward kids up to 5 years old.

While the shots are also being delivered to pediatric offices, private medical providers, and some retail pharmacies, Caldwell says the county health department clinics have seen many people who got put on their pediatrician’s waitlist “but tell us they do not want to wait.”

Anecdotally, the government center has also gotten visitors from across Northern Virginia, not just the Fairfax Health District, which covers the county and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church.

“They are telling us that they are eager and ready to vaccinate their little ones now and they’ve been waiting long enough,” Caldwell said.

According to FCHD data updated at 10:30 a.m., 996,500 Fairfax Health District residents, or 84.2% of the population, have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot, including 92.9% of adults.

While the dashboard doesn’t yet include data for kids under 5, the county health department says its two sites delivered shots to 338 children between 6 months and 5 years of age yesterday. The clinics also administered primary or booster doses to 99 adults.

“Today, as of 2:45, we have done 323 children between 6 months and 5 years already,” Caldwell told FFXnow, noting that an additional 80 adults received primary series and booster shots.

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