Updated January 20, 2021 at 2:30 p.m.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in its "1a" priority group. This includes paid and unpaid staff serving in health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious material.
On Jan. 8, the Virginia Department of Health announced that select health districts within the Commonwealth of Virginia, including the Fairfax Health District, will begin vaccinating priority group 1b starting Jan. 11. This includes adults 75+, people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps, and frontline essential workers. Frontline essential workers are in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 and cannot work remotely. Frontline Essential workers include:
|Police, Fire, Hazmat||Grocery store workers|
|Corrections and homeless shelter workers||Public transit workers|
|Childcare/K-12 Teachers/Staff||Mail carriers (USPS and private)|
|Food and Agriculture||Officials needed to maintain continuity of government|
On Jan. 14, Governor Ralph Northam announced that people age 65 and older and people age 16-64 with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will be moved into Phase 1b.
Eligible individuals can register online.
People who need assistance with registration, who need to register in another language, or who do not have proper internet access or technology for online registering can contact our call center to register over the phone at 703-324-7404. The Health Department’s vaccine hotline hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The registration process collects basic information so we can confirm your eligibility and add you to the appointment queue. Learn more about the registration process on our blog.
The following groups are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by the Health Department:
- Adults 65+
- People ages 16-64 with a high-risk medical condition or disability that increases their risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- Health care personnel
Other eligible groups have established vaccination protocol, and this is outlined on our vaccine home page. Click the drop-down "How do I get vaccinated if I am eligible?" for details.
Health Department is scheduling appointments for vaccination at five sites around the county Tuesday - Saturday. The Health Department will make accommodations for those with mobility and other issues.
It will take several weeks to months to vaccinate Virginians who fall into Phase 1b. The ability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available. Vaccine supply in the United States is still very limited and is expected to increase gradually over the next months.
Because there is not sufficient vaccine supply at this time to vaccinate everyone in Phase 1b, vaccinations will be provided in the following order:
1. Police, Fire and Hazmat
2. Corrections and homeless shelter workers
3. Childcare/k-12 Teachers/Staff
4. Food and Agriculture
6. Grocery store workers
7. Public transit workers
8. Mail carriers (UPS and private)
9. Officials needed to maintain continuity of government
Closed vaccination clinics for Police, Fire and Hazmat in Fairfax County, Fairfax City, Falls Church City, Herndon, and Vienna; Corrections and Homeless Shelter workers began Jan. 11 and are conducted by the Health Department. There will be no need for individuals working in these sectors to contact the Health Department to schedule appointments, please see your agency for scheduling details.
Public and private school teachers and staff began registering January 14 for an appointment through dedicated vaccination clinics with Inova. There will be no need for individuals working in public or private schools to contact the Health Department to schedule appointments. Childcare workers will soon be eligible to schedule appointments through dedicated vaccination clinics with Inova. The Health Department will provide scheduling information soon.
Dates for the other Phase 1b frontline essential workers categories will be announced in the future. More details will be available on the health department website.
Unemployed individuals are not eligible at this time. Phase 1b includes front line essential workers in sectors essential to the functioning of society and are at substantially higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their current employment. However, retired or unemployed essential workers 65 years or above can obtain vaccination.
Family caregivers have the same level of risk of exposure to COVID-19 as others household members and are not classified as essential workers. Employed caregivers (home health aides, hospice aides, etc.) are considered health care workers and qualify for vaccination in 1a.
In the Fairfax Health District, there are approximately 150,000 people that qualify for Phase 1b.
Adults 65 and older and those 16 through 64 Years with a High Risk Medical Condition or Disability and who are residents of Fairfax County, the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church and the Towns of Herndon and Vienna may access vaccine.
Health care personnel and frontline essential workers who live or work in Fairfax County, the Cities of Fairfax and Falls Church and the Towns of Herndon and Vienna have vaccine access.
Note that federal and state first responders, including those who have positions located in the Fairfax Health District, must see their agency for vaccination details.
Fairfax County follows CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidelines for medical conditions that qualify for vaccination in the Phase 1b group, “People Aged 16 through 64 years with Certain Conditions or Disabilities that Increases Their Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19.”
The list of medical conditions is available here. It is updated routinely as new data become available.
This group is included in Phase 1b because they are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, which can result in hospitalization and death. The goal of vaccinating this population is to decrease the burden of disease and death caused by COVID-19.
It will take months to vaccinate Virginians who fall into Phase 1b. The ability to schedule appointments will depend on the supply of vaccine available. Vaccine supply in the United States is still very limited. The amount of vaccine available in the United States will depend on the capabilities of the manufacturers to produce the vaccine safely and is expected to increase later gradually over the next months. The Virginia Department of Health is continually monitoring vaccination and matching allocations of doses and will move to other priority groups as appropriate. No information about dates of vaccine availability for groups beyond 1a and 1b is available at this time.
If someone has submitted their information online, the Health Department will contact the individual via email to schedule an appointment. Those who completed registration on the phone will receive a call back. It will take a number of months to get through the 1B phase, but the registration is in queue and the individual will be contacted to schedule an appointment as vaccine supply and appointments become available. Learn more about the registration process.
Yes, that is OK. The Health Department will contact you to schedule an appointment. It may take few months to get through the 1B phase, but your registration is in queue and you will be contacted to schedule an appointment as vaccine supply and appointments become available.
As of Jan. 20, there are approximately 115,000 people who have registered to get a vaccine appointment. Unfortunately, vaccine supply remains very limited so we ask for your patience as it may take months for people near the end of this waitlist to get an appointment time. There are plans to increase options for vaccine through pharmacies and health care provider offices over time. Read more about what you should know if you have already registered.
Yes. One caregiver is welcome to join on an appointment if necessary.
Online registration is preferred. People who need assistance with registration, who need to register in another language, or who do not have proper internet access or technology for online registration are encouraged to call instead: 703-324-7404.You do not need to do both online and phone registration.
Those who registered for vaccine before Jan. 18 should have received an email notification to confirm registration. If you have not seen it, please check your spam folder. If you registered on Jan. 18 or later, you will receive confirmation based on the contact information you provide on the questionnaire. For example, if you provided your email, cell phone and home phone, you will get an email, text and phone call. This is just a way to verify that you have successfully completed the form and you are registered with the Health Department to receive vaccine. The Health Department will use your contact information to schedule your appointment when more vaccine becomes available.
Depending on how many people are filling out the online questionnaire at one time, it is possible there will be a lag in notifications. If you feel you successfully filled out the online questionnaire and did not receive any communication within 24 hours, you may contact our call center at 703-324-7404 to confirm you are registered and confirm your contact information. Please note that we are currently experiencing a high call volume and it may take some time to get through.
For individuals who are receiving the vaccination from the Health Department, you will receive an email alerting you it is time to schedule your second appointment. For individuals who receive their vaccination from dedicated clinics, you will receive information directly from your employer (for frontline essential workers) or agency (for individuals living in correctional institutions).
Yes. The second dose must be of the same vaccine from the same manufacturer.
Individuals who received their first dose from the Health Department so far have received the Moderna vaccine. It is recommended that the same vaccine is given at least 28 days after the first dose. Soon, the Health Department will begin offering Pfizer vaccine, which requires that the second dose be given at least 21 days after the first dose.
The same vaccine must be given for both doses. The recommended interval between Moderna vaccine doses is 28 days and between Pfizer vaccine doses is 21 days. If required, longer intervals are acceptable and second doses given within 4 days before the recommended interval also are considered valid, but not preferred.
If you received your first dose from the Fairfax County Health Department, you will receive an email invitation with a link to schedule your second dose during an appropriate window based on the date you received your first dose. You can expect this notification at least 4 to 7 days before the dose is due. You do not need to contact the Health Department to schedule your second dose and you do not need to complete the registration form again.
The Fairfax County Health Department uses multiple methods to reach the groups eligible for vaccine, including posting information on websites and social media accounts, and through the news media.
There are currently two vaccines that are authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States: 1) Pfizer-BioNTec COVID-19 vaccine and 2) Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Both vaccines require two doses of the same vaccine from the same manufacturer and it will be important that your second dose match your first dose. You will be provided with a vaccination card indicating the vaccine manufacturer.
In clinical trials, the currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines were shown to have high efficacy (>94%) in preventing symptomatic COVID-19 infection after two doses. They also showed that they could prevent severe disease. The vaccine works by stimulating our body’s immune system to make “antibodies” to the COVID-19 virus. These antibodies allow the body to quickly defend itself if one becomes infected with the virus.
While vaccines are very effective in preventing COVID-19, they are just one tool. Even for those who have been vaccinated, a combination of actions is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. After getting the vaccine, it will still be important to adhere to all health and safety recommendations from the CDC and Virginia Department of Health.
COVID-19 vaccines have satisfied the requirements issued Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Before the FDA grants an EUA, the safety and efficacy of these vaccines were reviewed by FDA scientific staff and by an independent panel of experts convened by the FDA. The CDC and the FDA will continue to monitor individuals who have received the vaccine to ensure there is no evidence of even rare safety issues. The vaccines were tested in large studies to include tens of thousands of people to make sure they met safety standards and protect people of different ages, races, and ethnicities. The study results showed that the vaccines’ benefits outweighed possible risks and provide protection from COVID-19.
COVID-19 can be a severe or fatal disease, even in young, healthy people. The risks from COVID-19 illness are greater than the possible risks from receiving the vaccine, therefore, when you are eligible for vaccination, it is strongly recommended you receive the vaccine. If you have specific questions about whether or not you should receive the vaccine when it is available, please contact your primary care provider. For general vaccine information you can contact our call center at 703-267-3511.
The two currently available vaccines are manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. These vaccines include a piece of messenger RNA, or mRNA, that your body uses as instructions to make a protein that appears on the surface of the virus. Your immune system reacts to this protein and develops a response without danger of coronavirus infection. This allows your body to start preparing to fight against the virus even before you are exposed. There is no live virus in the vaccine and it is impossible to get COVID-19 from the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Vaccine ingredients lists can be found on the manufacturer’s fact sheets:
Vaccines currently available will be given in two doses by injecting it into the muscle, similar to the flu shot. The second dose should be administered about three or four weeks after the first dose for the Pfizer-BoiNTech and Moderna vaccines. Your shot will be recorded on a vaccination card and you will be asked to follow up with a second appointment at the appropriate time. You must receive both doses as scheduled in order to fully benefit from the vaccine’s protection.
Yes. It is recommended that you should still get the vaccine. Health care providers who had a positive PCR COVID-19 diagnosis in the last three months may consider scheduling a later appointment as data suggests the initial months after recovery may offer protection. It is important to note that regardless of a previous COVID-19 recovery or vaccination, individuals will still need to abide by the same health and safety protocols recommended by the CDC and health department. Read more: CDC’s FAQ about COVID-19 Vaccination.
Yes. The CDC has given clear direction that individuals should still wear masks, stating “it will be important for everyone to continue using all the tools available to us to help stop this pandemic, like wearing masks, washing hands often, and social distancing.” The PPE guidance or isolation protocols should not be changed based on the provider’s or the patient’s vaccination status.
No. The vaccine does not contain a live virus. It only contains a piece of the genetic code for the spike protein, which protects your body from the virus. It cannot give you COVID-19.
Those who qualify under this group and who live in the Fairfax Health District may register to receive a vaccination appointment from the Health Department.
Please note that non-essential worker Phase 1b groups accounts for approximately 40% of all Fairfax Health District residents over the age of 16, and vaccine demand is far greater than appointment and vaccine availability at this time. Therefore, it may take months to vaccinate people in these priority groups. This is why – even if you register for an appointment – it might take some time before you can actually schedule a slot and get vaccinated. After you register online, your registration remains in our queue and you will be contacted to schedule an appointment as vaccine supply and appointments become available.
Pfizer-BioNTech: Produced in the United States (St. Louis, MO; Andover, MA; and Kalamazoo, MI), Belgium, and Germany.
Moderna: Produced in the United States (Norwood, MA; Portsmouth, NH) and Switzerland
Local information on vaccinations:
- Health Department Call Center: 703-267-3511
- Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine Website
Updated information about COVID-19 vaccine priority groups:
- CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)
- Virginia Department of Health news releases: When the Virginia Department of Health’s Virginia Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (VDMAC) determines vaccine priorities for the state, there is typically a news release to announce this.
Information about the vaccines: manufacturers, ingredients, safety, approval process, and more:
The vaccine is being administered under a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). An EUA enables medical products, including vaccines, to be used during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic following rigorous testing and scientific review. For an EUA to be issued for a vaccine, the FDA must determine that the manufacturing process ensures quality and consistency and that the known and potential benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks. While formal approval is a process that will take additional months to secure, the vaccines have proved safe and effective in large clinical trials and no corners were cut in the development or review of the vaccines. The vaccine fact sheet is a federal document that we are not able to change locally to explain the statement on approval.
The Health Department is scheduling appointments for eligible 1a and 1b groups at five locations around the county Tuesday - Saturday. When you receive your invitation to schedule an appointment, you will be able to select a day, time and location. Accommodations are made for those with mobility and other issues.
Fairfax County has not sent out any cancelation notices to people who have scheduled appointments. If you registered to get vaccinated and have an appointment scheduled to receive your first dose, please keep your appointment.
A communication went out on Jan. 15 to everyone who registered for vaccine indicating that due to limited vaccine availability, it may take some time to get an appointment and to please be patient. This message was intended for those people who DID NOT have an appointment scheduled, but it may have inadvertently caused some confusion. Everyone who has previously filled out an online questionnaire will remain registered and you do not need to re-submit information.
If you did not click that link or if you clicked it later and got an error message, that is ok and you don’t need to do anything else. You are still registered in our system and on the waitlist in the same order in which you were originally entered. That confirmation system is optional.
No, you still need to register to get an appointment with Fairfax County by completing our online form. The form available on the Virginia Department of Health’s website allows residents to see which phase people fall in to.
VDH includes this language as you complete the form: “Submission of this form does NOT reserve a COVID-19 vaccine. The information collected in this form is used for the sole purpose of the Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts. The information provided in this form will be used to determine COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and to plan vaccine administration.”