Broadening Vaccine Distribution Hits Snags Throughout Region

Jane Karpick, a retired nurse and relatively new resident at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a health event the senior living facility hosted last week for its assisted living and residential living members. (Photo: News-Press)

As the Phase 1a population begins to wrap up their Covid-19 vaccinations, the move to the more broadly defined Phase 1b comes at a time where the supply is pinched and leaders are looking into new solutions.

Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads is one of the local senior living communities that is in the process of vaccinating its residents.

Karen Doyle, Goodwin House’s associate executive director who’s responsible for the facility’s clinical services, told the News-Press that its residents will have no problem receiving the vaccine. Judging by the interest at the facility, Doyle said that 98 percent of the residents at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads will receive their vaccine, with about 80 percent of staff receiving the vaccine as well.

In absolute numbers, Goodwin House had 331 doses of the Pfizer vaccine allocated at the end of the December for their first clinic. Doyle said that for its clinic on Jan. 20, Goodwin House received 330 doses and for its event the following day, they received 301 doses. All vaccines were delivered to Goodwin House through its enrollment in the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-term Care Program through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After prioritizing its first wave of doses to skilled nursing residents and the staff that worked with them, it has now set up mass vaccination events. Last week, residents in assisted living and residential living and other staffers could come to the event and receive their first dose. Once the second dose is delivered in mid-February, and the immunity takes hold over the course of the following weeks, Doyle said they plan to look into reopening the facility after that.

“Initially, we’re going to open very slowly,” Doyle said. “There are also new strain[s] of the coronavirus out there, so we want to be very cautious, but we are looking toward the end of February [to] beginning of March to start to change how we do things.”

Ron and Jane Karpick are two residents who received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Ron, a retired pulmonologist, and Jane, a retired nurse, had been on the waiting list to get into Goodwin House for the past five years so they could leave their Lake Barcroft residence behind. As luck would have it, their spot opened up this past August, but the couple had been volunteering at the Bailey’s Crossroads facility for a long time and were comfortable with the decision to move in.

Both will receive their second dose on Feb. 10, and despite some quibbles with the rollout generally, the couple is grateful for the chance to be innoculated.

“They don’t prevent infection or stop people from potentially spreading disease, but that’s better than we were before the vaccine, because as you know, people with virus symptoms can transmit the disease so much more easily,” Ron said.

Attempting to get the vaccine for Phase 1b populations has been a struggle already, and that’s made worse by the news that incoming Covid-19 vaccines allocated to the Fairfax Health District have fallen from 40,000 per week down to 13,000.

Grocery store workers, who’ve been on the frontline of this pandemic as much as anybody, still haven’t received their doses.

“Giant Food has not received any allocations from any of the jurisdictional Virginia Department’s of Health,” Daniel Wolk, a spokesman for Giant Food, told the News-Press. “Currently Giant is working with the Washington D.C. Department of Health and Maryland Department of Health to distribute the vaccine in those regions based on their guidance.”

A spokeswoman for Albertsons, the parent company of Safeway, said they “are working very closely with federal and state partners to help administer the vaccine in accordance with the guidelines set by local health jurisdictions” and that Albertsons “will offer the vaccine free of charge to our associates when it becomes available to them according to their local distribution schedule.”

Distributing the vaccine has become the focus for national politicians from the Northern Virginia area.

A news release said that U.S. Representatives Don Beyer, Gerald Connolly and Jennifer Wexton, all Democrats who represent parts of the cities of Falls Church and Alexandria as well as the counties of Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William, wrote to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to request a community vaccination site for Northern Virginia.

According to the representatives, the Biden Administration’s plan to get Covid-19 under control includes a proposal for 100 community mass vaccination sites across the country.

“Northern Virginia already has the capacity. Our localities are eager and ready, and they have the capability to vaccinate thousands more people than they currently have vaccine supply for,” the representatives wrote, per the release. “For example, Arlington County is receiving roughly 2,700 doses per week but has the capacity to do at least 1,000 per day. Staffing is not the limiting factor, supply is.”

They noted that the City of Alexandria has a vaccine waiting list of over 25,000 people looking to be vaccinated, while nearby Fairfax County has a waiting list of over 100,000 people.

The representatives said that a recent survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Delphi Lab through Facebook found that Northern Virginia has the highest demand for vaccines in the country.