By Kristen Martwinski
On the first day the COVID-19 vaccines were administered in Loudoun County, Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend laid out the path for getting the population immunized against the novel coronavirus.
On Dec. 17, Loudoun County held a virtual COVID-19 question-and-answer session with Goodfriend. During the stream, Goodfriend gave updates on the county’s expectations regarding the effects of the virus and the new vaccine. He also identified those who are first in line to get the vaccine, including healthcare workers and those living in long-term care facilities.
Pfizer’s vaccine has already arrived at Loudoun hospitals, Goodfriend said, and Moderna’s vaccine is scheduled to arrive sometime next week. He explained that for the vaccines to be effective, people must get two doses. After the first dose, people will get reminders of when to get the booster. There will be 480,000 doses given to the region initially.
There were many questions around who is a part of the high priority group that is first to get the vaccine. Goodfriend explained that those in long-term care facilities are eligible, while seniors who are in independent living facilities are not. Home healthcare workers, Medical Reserve Corps workers and teachers also came up—both home healthcare workers and Medical Reserve Corps workers have been deemed eligible for the vaccine, while teachers have not been labeled as high priority yet.
Goodfriend also reassured viewers of the safety of the vaccine.
“The Moderna vaccine is safe. The Pfizer vaccine so far looks like it is safe,” Goodfriend said “There are risks with all vaccines.” He also warned the public against getting information on the vaccine from unreliable sources, and against falling victim to conspiracy theories.
Until the vaccine is available to everyone, Goodfriend said the public must continue to do its part in flattening the infection curve, and that everyone must treat the threat of the virus seriously.
“The beginning of 2021 is probably going to be a dark time,” Goodfriend said. “We expect increased transition [of the virus], but we have control over it because of the vaccine and the steps we take.”
He also addressed the importance of masks: “If you see someone not wearing a mask or not social distancing, speak up and let them know.”
More questions or concerns on the vaccine can be addressed by calling 703-737-8300, or going to loudoun.gov/health.