COVID-19: Vaccines are Here

Page updated on Jan 22, 2021 at 7:54 PM

COVID-19 vaccines are a key ingredient to reduce illness, save lives, and return to normalcy in Alexandria. Updates will be added as more information is available about who can be vaccinated first and where vaccines will be offered. Bookmark this page and sign up for the City’s eNews for the latest information.

Who is Eligible for Vaccines Right Now?

Starting January 11, COVID-19 vaccines are available in Alexandria for the following groups of people:

  • Phase 1a
  • Phase 1b - As of 1/14/21 this now includes those ages 65+ and 16-64 with preexisting conditions

Pre-register for Vaccines

Organizations and individuals who qualify should use the pre-registration link above. Anyone experiencing difficulty with the form may call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please note that AHD is experiencing high call volume and there may be some delays in our response. Please be patient.

If you previously registered for vaccination as part of Phase 1c there is no need to register again, we will be contacting registrants on a rolling basis.

Members of your household may become eligible at different times, depending on their employment location, occupation, age, and health condition. Vaccination phases may vary by jurisdiction. 

Long-Term Care Facility Staff and Residents

Long-term care facilities (LTCF) are working with the federal government Pharmacy Partnership Program to vaccinate staff and residents against COVID-19. Those with loved ones in LTCFs should contact the facility to ensure they have all required paperwork on record.

Vaccine Partners

AHD encourages health care providers (private providers and pharmacies) who are interested in vaccinating their patients to become a COVID-19 vaccine provider. The first step is for the health care practice to complete Virginia Department of Health’s COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Intent Form. As more vaccine becomes available, those health care providers will be eligible to receive free COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine Doses Will Be Free

Vaccine doses purchased with U.S. taxpayer dollars will be given to the American people at no cost. However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee (around $20) for administering the vaccine to someone. Some providers, such as the Alexandria Health Department, will waive this fee.

Learn More About COVID-19 Vaccines: Watch a Virtual Panel Discussion

­­A recorded panel of local medical experts, civic leaders and community leaders will answer your questions about COVID-19 vaccines.

Vaccines are one of the most powerful tools to end the pandemic. Vaccines are a safe way to protect loved ones, save lives, and avoid economically damaging lockdowns. With the availability of new vaccines so quickly, some members of the community have questions about how they work or how they were developed. The panel will discuss COVID-19 vaccine safety and effectiveness, the role vaccines play in ending the pandemic, who is currently eligible to be vaccinated, and what to expect when vaccines are more widely available. 

On January 27, a premiere of the panel discussion will be available online in English, Spanish, Amharic and Arabic. Read the news release.

How Do Vaccines Work?

Most vaccines -- including the current COVID-19 vaccine candidates -- work by triggering the body’s immune system to make antibodies that fight the virus without causing an active infection.

Essentially, vaccines teach the body to recognize the coronavirus and fight it. Most of the vaccines in Phase 3 clinical trials require two shots a few weeks apart; the first shot starts building protection and the second maximizes the protection. Building immunity can take several weeks, and individuals can still become infected with COVID-19 if they are exposed to it while in the process of receiving vaccines. Some individuals may experience temporary effects including fever and body aches which last a day or two and are the body’s normal response to developing immunity to a virus. It is not the COVID-19 infection. Vaccination will not lead to infection of COVID-19 and it will not cause a positive test result. Someone who has recovered from COVID-19 could potentially be reinfected, so they may also benefit from a vaccine. More studies will determine the duration of the vaccine’s effectiveness.

There are three types of COVID-19 vaccines in the final stages of clinical trial, and they could soon be approved by the FDA for distribution. Each vaccine uses a slightly different approach to develop immunity to the COVID-19 virus, but they all involve harmless proteins that teach the body to fight the virus in the future.

  • Protein subunit vaccines contain harmless particles of the virus

  • mRNA vaccines contain material from the virus to enable cells to make harmless proteins that will stimulate the immune system

  • Vector vaccines contain a weakened version of a virus (different than the one that causes COVID-19) which has material from the virus that causes COVID-19 inserted into it and produces a harmless protein

Learn more about how vaccines work in this two-minute video.

How Were the COVID-19 Vaccines Developed and Proven to be Safe?

Clinical development for vaccines is a three-phase process. Learn more about the process at a glance >> 

  • During Phase I, small groups of people receive the trial vaccine to help determine safety and side effects.
  • In Phase II, the clinical study is expanded and the vaccine is given to people who have characteristics (such as age and physical health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. The purpose of Phase II is to identify the optimal dose and schedule of the vaccine and how it impacts various groups of the population. In the case of COVID-19 vaccines, Phase II trials in the U.S. should have a demographic makeup similar to that of the country, spanning a wide range of ages, races, ethnicities, and any other factors that would affect risk and efficacy.
  • In Phase III, the final formulation of the vaccine is given to thousands of people and tested for efficacy and safety. During clinical development, a trial vaccine’s effectiveness is determined by comparing outcomes of patients who have received it with outcomes of patients who received the placebo.

In the U.S., the findings from clinical trials are presented to and reviewed by the FDA. The FDA also inspects manufacturing facilities to ensure safety and reviews product labels to ensure clarity. After approving a vaccine, the FDA continues to monitor and oversee its production to ensure that all safety protocols are followed. In addition, many vaccines undergo Phase IV formal and ongoing studies after the vaccine is approved and licensed. The FDA and CDC also collect and analyze information from reports of any side effects that may occur after a vaccine has been licensed.

In summary, before a new vaccine is available to the public, it has been given to thousands of people under stringent monitoring for safety and effectiveness. Sometimes, very rare side effects are recognized only after the vaccine is licensed because they occur so infrequently, but such side effects are very rare and must be weighed against the benefits the vaccine will provide.

How Can I Receive More Information?

This website will continue to be updated as more information about COVID-19 vaccines become available. Bookmark this page, sign up for the City’s eNews, and check the CDC’s website for more information.

COVID-19 vaccines are just one way to shield our community from illness. Just like cars include seat belts, airbags, backup cameras, blind spot cameras, and more, a COVID-19 protection plan for Alexandria must include masks, limited gatherings, physical distancing, contact tracing and all the other methods that have been in place since March.