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Mayor: City more vaccinated than health department data indicates

On paper, Alexandria has had a hard time closing the gap to the city’s goal of 80% of residents getting vaccinated or even the Virginia target of 70%.

Several explanations for the challenge have been put forward, but in a town hall this week Mayor Justin Wilson put forward another: the city has already hit that goal, but the way the calculations work don’t show it.

“I get a lot of questions about ‘Why [are we] not at 70%?'” Wilson said. “The short answer is my view is we’ve actually made that goal.”

Wilson said the city’s figures are thrown out of wack in part because many Alexandrians didn’t get vaccinated in Virginia.

“Part of the data discrepancy that we have right now is that there are two very big populations excluded form the data we’re using,” Wilson said. “The [Virginia Department of Health] does not include Alexandrians vaccinated outside of the state. In other states that had lower demand and perhaps greater accessibility: we had a lot of Alexandrians who went to other states. They went to Maryland or DC. They’re not showing up in the numbers reported.”

The other factor Wilson said could be holding back Alexandria’s count is federal vaccinations. In 2019, the Alexandria Times noted that 12,831 Alexandrians are federal employees, citing the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

“Perhaps bigger than that is federal doses,” Wilson said. “These are folks who would have received doses through their employers, and in some cases dependents. That’s reported at the state level, so we know how many of those folks are Virginians, but we don’t have a good jurisdictional breakdown of those numbers.”

Currently, the city sits at around 60% of the city being partially vaccinated and 56% are fully vaccinated. Wilson said, between federal employees and those vaccinated out of state, the has probably at least hit the lower benchmark.

“I suspect we’re well over 70% for the 18+ folks,” Wilson said. “That being said, still have a lot of work to do.”

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