Home health care worker Fatima Rivera of Alexandria helps four senior residents with their medications and errands — and spent three months on Virginia’s waitlist to receive her first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
“It’s just for the safety of my people that I work with, you know? That’s the main reason,” Ms. Rivera, 51, said Friday as she got her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a Safeway pharmacy on King Street. “I’m concerned that if I get sick how they’re going to do, so this is so important to me.”
She expressed concern about a reaction to the vaccine but said she felt more comfortable about getting the shot after seeing the seniors in her care get theirs. When fully vaccinated, she said, she hopes to visit family in Florida and attend her niece’s wedding, which was postponed until July.
Ms. Rivera joined more than 2.7 million Virginians who received at least a first shot as of Sunday. Just over 32% of state residents have received one dose, and more than 1.5 million, or almost 18%, are fully vaccinated, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Pharmacies have administered more than 986,000 of those doses.
Virginia is administering nearly 75,000 doses on average each day and is receiving a “tremendous boost” from state-operated community vaccination centers, the Health Department said. Community centers are located in Danville, Portsmouth, Petersburg and Prince William County, and a center opens in Suffolk this month. A federally run center opened last week in Norfolk.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday that COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all residents ages 16 and older beginning April 18, beating the May 1 nationwide deadline set by President Biden.
“I hope things get back to normal,” said Brian Hendry, 67, of Rockville, Maryland. “I feel safer, but I’m still cautious.”
Mr. Hendry received his second dose of the Moderna vaccine Thursday at a CVS pharmacy on Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. The retired carpenter for the National Institutes of Health said he has plans to visit his condo in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Another Rockville resident, Kathy Hyre, said Thursday that she felt relieved to have her second Moderna shot.
“I do feel safer, but I was never too worried anyways,” Ms. Hyre, 70, said outside the CVS. “Just never thought I would get [COVID-19]. I never had any panic during this.
“I’ve taken the precautions I needed to take, but I just feel like I’m healthy and strong, and I don’t think I’m going to get it. And if I got it, I don’t think it would be a bad case. I’m an optimistic person,” she said. “I really miss going out to dinner, and I miss getting together with some friends who are more scared of the pandemic than I am.”
As of Sunday, nearly 1.9 million Marylanders received a first dose and more than 1 million received a second dose. More than 93,000 residents have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Maryland Department of Health. Almost 42% of residents age 18 and older and about 76% of those 65 and older have received a vaccine, according to an update Saturday from Gov. Larry Hogan.
The state reportedly averaged more than 61,000 shots each day over the past week.
“From the beginning, the biggest challenge with our vaccine distribution has been more demand than supply. We are expecting a significant ramp up in federal vaccine allocations over the coming weeks,” said health department spokesman Charles Gischlar. “We have built an infrastructure capable of vaccinating up to 100,000 people a day.”
Pre-registration for a vaccine appointment at a mass vaccination site opened Thursday to all Marylanders aged 16 and older. On Friday, the Eastern Shore mass site at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury opened a no-appointment walk-up line for eligible residents. The state intends to add more no-appointment lines to other mass vaccination sites in coming weeks, according to Mr. Hogan.
Seven mass sites throughout Maryland are opening this month, including a federally run one at the Greenbelt Metro Station in Prince George’s County.
In the District, persons 18 years and older can pre-register for a vaccine appointment. Residents who are 16 or 17 years old and have a qualifying medical condition can pre-register at Children’s National Hospital. The D.C. Department of Health recommends all residents and workers to pre-register, regardless of eligibility.
More than 343,000 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the District as of Friday, the most recent health department data shows. About 23% of D.C. residents have received at least one dose, and about 12% have been fully vaccinated. More than 60,000 non-residents have been partially or fully vaccinated, according to the Health Department.
Pharmacy technician Michelle Peterson received her second Moderna shot on Thursday at the Harris Teeter pharmacy on First Street NE. The 40-year-old Silver Spring resident said she was able to get vaccinated more quickly through her work in the city, although she did pre-register for a vaccine appointment through Montgomery County.
“I do feel that the risks of COVID far outweigh the risks of the vaccine even with the rushed process, but I am empathetic to people being turned off and a little nervous about that,” she said. “I think universally [we’re] nervous about the [rushed] process but relieved that maybe this will get us back to a semblance of normalcy.”
Ms. Peterson, who has a 60-year-old husband and two teenage sons, said she switched jobs because of the pandemic. She previously worked at a medical office that performed cosmetic procedures such as Botox and injection fillers where patients couldn’t mask up. In December, she switched to her more socially distanced job as a pharmacy technician, where she largely helps customers from behind plastic screens.
She said she is looking forward to dining out again and going to Oregon to visit her in-laws, whom she hasn’t seen in about a year.
“The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner we can see them again,” she said.
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