ARLINGTON, Va. — On Saturday morning, the first mass vaccination site in Arlington will open its doors for residents to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Lubber Run Community Center isn’t open to the public yet, but by Saturday morning the Virginia Department of Health said they’ll be ready to administer 1,500 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
"We’ve been here all day," Cara O’ Donnell, spokersperon for Arlington County Public Health, said. "Our goal is to be set up by the end of the day and be all set for Saturday when the goal is to vaccinate 1,500 Arlingtonians in one day."
Although this is the first time distributing vaccines from Lubber Run Community Center, O’Donnell believes Saturday will run smoothly.
"You come in, you register, they will confirm your appointment time and then you’ll be ushered into one of these vaccinator stations," she said.
Each vaccination station will have a mini cooler, since unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Johnson and Johnson shot can be stored at normal refrigeration temperatures. VDH said maintaining the cold chain throughout the day is a top priority.
According to the CDC, an open vile of vaccine can last for up to six hours inside of the refrigerator or at room temperature for up to two hours. When a vaccinator is running low on doses, they simply raise a paddle and more vials are transferred from the main coolers in the back of the room to their station.
O'Donnell said the Arlington County Health Department has been meticulous about making sure that the number of appointments matches the number of vaccines they have available.
"And that number is tracked through the day so we ensure we’re not wasting any doses of the vaccine," O'Donnell said.
However, O'Donnell said even if people don't show up for their scheduled appointments, VDH won't be giving out day-of vaccine appointments.
"There are simply not leftover doses at the end of the day," she explained. "We make sure that those numbers line up exactly."
The Virginia Department of Health is asking people that don’t have appointments for Saturday not to show up to the vaccination site. They also said to come on time to an appointment, not early, to avoid any unnecessary contact with others waiting to be vaccinated; if you do come early, you'll be asked to wait in your car.