Joint Board Matter With Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust
Mr. Chairman, the Fairfax County Health Department has established an excellent process for delivering vaccines to county residents based on priorities established by the state. Unfortunately, to date we have not been able to obtain the quantity of vaccine that we need to meet the huge demand for vaccinations. To manage the waiting list for vaccinations, the county’s Health and Information Technology departments have developed a user-friendly registration program that keeps track of who has signed up for vaccines and when they signed up. Those who have registered are scheduled to be vaccinated on a “first come, first served” basis as vaccine supply becomes available. To date, almost 200,000 county residents have registered, and this number will increase dramatically as the registration process is opened to additional priority groups.
I have heard many compliments from constituents and other county residents who are very satisfied with the Health Department’s management of the process once they have been scheduled for a vaccine. I have personally observed the vaccination “production line” established at the Government Center. Those who are called to be vaccinated receive very good instructions, and there are many staff and volunteers on site to answer questions and provide additional information as needed. The operation and personnel are efficient while at the same time demonstrating concern for those who are in line to be vaccinated.
There are, however, aspects of the registration process that I believe should be dramatically improved. Residents receive an initial confirmation when they register, and it is possible to call the Health Department to obtain confirmation that you are on the registration list. I believe, however, that confirmation should be sent periodically and automatically to registrants. This will help avoid the anxiety many are experiencing and it will free up Health Department employees for other more substantive activities.
Also, my experience is that most county residents understand that the county is vaccinating as many residents as we can but that there is a vaccination supply challenge. While they realize they must “wait their turn,” they would like to know where they are in the registration line. They know that the county has information about where they are in the queue and that the county currently is not sharing that information with them. They believe the county should be more transparent. They want to know, and I believe they deserve to know, how many people are ahead of them to be called to be vaccinated. They also want to be updated regularly on progress specifically as it relates to their place in that queue.
Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I move that the Board direct the County Executive to have staff very expeditiously develop and implement whatever software is needed to automatically send via text and/or email weekly updates to those on the registration list. The updates should, at a minimum, confirm that they are still in the queue, describe progress being made, and tell registrants how many others are ahead of them in the queue as of the date of the update.
And further moved that, for those registrants who may not have access to communications via email or text, the County Executive is directed to implement a process of communicating regular updates to those registrants with information similar to what is included in the weekly updates that are sent via text and/or email.