- Goal is to increase vaccination rates among under-represented, at-risk populations
- Referral-only system, no walk-in appointments
Arlington County has partnered with Neighborhood Health, Arlington Free Clinic, Macedonia Baptist Church, and local non-profit organizations to address disparities in COVID-19 vaccination rates among Arlington’s Black, Latino, low-income, and other communities that have been more severely affected by the pandemic. The Arlington County Department of Human Services has begun scheduling vaccine appointments for people referred by nonprofits.
“We are committed to ensuring that all of our residents who want a vaccine will have access to the vaccine.” said County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti. “And we are committed to doing all we can to equitably distribute the vaccine.”
Black Americans and Latinos have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 compared to White, non-Latinos. “We want to make sure more members of our community have the opportunity to receive the vaccine,” said Reverend Craig Harcum of Macedonia Baptist Church. “The church is a trusted factor, a trusted force in the community, and we are able to help seniors who might lack technical access, or others who struggle to understand the process. Our goal is to save lives spiritually as well as physically.”
Neighborhood Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center that works in Alexandria, Arlington, and Fairfax to provide high quality primary care regardless of ability to pay. Neighborhood Health Executive Director Dr. Basim Khan said his organization seeks to work with communities where the COVID impacts are high and vaccine access is low. “Our priority is to provide access to vaccines to the communities most impacted by COVID-19,” he said. “We are grateful to our non-profit, faith community, and local government partners in this critical effort.”
Arlington Free Clinic President Nancy White agreed. “It’s essential that we work together to remove barriers to vaccination and make it easy for our low-income neighbors to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” she said. “Arlington Free Clinic is proud to partner with our county and nonprofit colleagues to improve vaccine access to our high-risk, vulnerable communities.” Arlington Free Clinic provides free, high-quality healthcare to low-income, uninsured Arlington County adults through the generosity of donors and volunteers.
How It Works
Neighborhood Health has been working with non-profit safety net and faith organizations to vaccinate individuals from the communities most impacted by COVID-19 at its vaccine sites in Alexandria and Fairfax County. As a FQHC, it can obtain vaccine directly from the federal government. Arlington Free Clinic has been providing COVID-19 vaccines to its uninsured clients using vaccine allocated by the Arlington Public Health Division.
Through this partnership, Neighborhood Health is adding a vaccine site in Arlington at the Macedonia Baptist Church. In addition, Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) will now manage the referral process from Arlington nonprofit safety net organizations and affordable housing providers. DHS will notify these partners when it is time to register their clients and/or residents. Macedonia Baptist Church is also working separately with Neighborhood Health to conduct outreach to the faith community.
“Health equity has been one of our top priorities since the groundbreaking work of our Destination 2027, which strives to achieve health equity by 2027,” said DHS Director Anita Friedman.
DHS will schedule appointments at either the Neighborhood Health site at Macedonia Baptist Church, the Arlington Free Clinic site at their facility off Columbia Pike, or at one of the County sites (which have included Sequoia Plaza, Walter Reed Community Center, and Lubber Run Community Center). All vaccine appointments will be made by referral only.