COVID-19 Updates: Vaccinations and Reopenings

After enduring over a year of lock-downs and masks, it seems like things are finally looking up for us, just in time for Spring. With strong support from the current administration, COVID-19 vaccination in the U.S. is going full steam ahead. As of March 28, 2021, the CDC reports over 143 million doses of vaccines having been administered across the country with over 93 million people receiving at least one dose and 51 million people being fully vaccinated. While vaccination rates vary by state, Virginia is doing well with almost 2.4 million people having received at least one dose. It is almost difficult to imagine how even just a few months ago, it was unclear whether we would be faring better or worse in this war against COVID-19.

During a press conference in December 2020, President-elect Joe Biden promised to provide 100 million COVID-19 vaccination shots in his first 100 days in office. Many were skeptical when this was announced, especially given the slow rollout under former president Donald Trump. However, President Biden and his team met their goal well in advance with over 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered by March 19, 2021, just 59 days after taking office. He then set a new goal for 200 million vaccination shots within his first 100 days in office, which they should be able to meet as long as current vaccination rates are maintained. Also, during his first presidential address from the White House, Biden pledged that all adults should be eligible for shots by May 1, 2021.

Based on all of these hopeful statistics and safe performance records during the past few months, Fairfax county public schools recently announced that they plan to reopen in the fall fully in-person with all students expected to return in-person, five days a week. COVID-19 precautions set by the county and CDC, such as the 3-feet distancing rule, will be followed. In addition, it looks like many in-person summer camps will be occurring with appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols in place. The risk for these reopening are deemed to be low given that numerous private schools have been functioning fully in-person during the pandemic and few cases of COVID-19 transmission in schools, especially in K-12 and in those practicing the correct protocols, are reported.

However, even with increased vaccinations, the nationwide number of COVID cases are still too high, likely due to the spread of new variant strains of coronavirus as well as some governors relaxing restrictions despite the recommendations of health officials. Florida experienced a recent surge of COVID-19 cases after reopening several months ahead of Texas and other states.

Thus, while it is a relief that locally, Virginia and neighboring states and cities are doing well, it is important to stay on track for safe reopenings to happen in the summer and fall. Do your part by getting vaccinated when it’s your turn. You can sign up for vaccinations through your county here. You can still pre-register even if you aren’t eligible yet. You can also search for additional vaccine appointments available at local pharmacies here, as well as local pharmacy websites. Virginia anticipates that all local health districts will reach Phase 1c of vaccinations by mid-April, which includes all essential workers, people age 65+ and people age 16-64 with underlying health conditions. Learn more about the different vaccination phases and eligibility here. Also, even after you are fully vaccinated, it’s important to remember CDC and health officials recommend continuing COVID safety protocols, including wearing a mask in public, avoiding crowded places and unnecessary travel, and staying at least 6 feet apart from others.