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Alexandria Health Department working to schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments for kids ages 5-11, new director says

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) The Alexandria Health Department is working community partners to begin scheduling coronavirus vaccine appointments for kids ages 5-11 by this week, according to its newly hired Director, Dr. David C. Rose.

“We’re in the process of making sure that we and our partners within the community — the pharmacies, the providers — everyone has what it is they need,” Rose told ALXnow in a recent interview. “We’re going to be making sure that appointments are available on a rolling basis when supply becomes available.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11.

“Understand this is all kind of happening within the last 24 hours,” Rose said. “We are working to ensure that we have everything so that people can go to our website and to the vaccine website for parents to make those appointments for their children.”

The vaccine is now available for the new age group.

“Parents and guardians have multiple options for getting 5-11 year olds vaccinated, including AHD vaccine clinics, pharmacies and pediatrician’s offices,” AHD reported. “Pediatric vaccine appointments at AHD clinics will be available on a rolling basis as supply becomes available, so please be patient. It may take several weeks to receive the supplies needed to vaccinate the more than 12,000 youth in Alexandria.”

The Department continued, “AHD will continue to coordinate with community partners to host vaccine events at schools on weekends and throughout the community during the week. Visit alexandriava.gov/Vaccines to find appointments. Appointments at additional providers, such as pharmacies, will be available at vaccines.gov later this week, once the website has been updated with a pediatric vaccine search option. For support finding a vaccine, contact the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 703.746.4988.”

Health Department Director starts work

Rose started work this week, and is spending his first days meeting with City Manager Mark Jinks, other department heads and his own staff. He takes over for Dr. Anne Gaddy, who became acting director after the sudden departure of former Health Director Dr. Stephen Haering in April.

“I have to compliment Dr. Gaddy, who’s been an acting health director in guiding us through the challenges now, and her able leadership and her capacity to bring me up to speed,” Rose said. “She’s a wealth of information and a very trusted leader within the health department and within the city.”

Jinks, in a press release, thanked Gaddy and welcomed Rose to the role.

“Dr. Gaddy’s able leadership as Acting Director has been key to Alexandria’s ability to respond quickly and nimbly to the COVID-19 pandemic in our community,” Jinks said. “She has excelled in all aspects of this role, particularly in assuming responsibility for planning, organizing and administering Alexandria’s vaccination processes.”

Gaddy has resumed her previous role as deputy health director.

Rose, a board-certified pediatrician, was previously the child welfare medical director for the Maryland Department of Human Services. He was also the deputy health officer for public health for the Anne Arundel County Department of Health; a senior deputy director for the District of Columbia Department of Health; and the assistant commissioner for communicable diseases and epidemiology for the Baltimore City Health Department.

Rose said his understanding of the inner-workings of government and ability to bring parties together is why he was hired.

“This is a great team here in Alexandria, what you have in terms of the partnerships between the city and state health department and the citizenry,” he said. “They are really engaged with the department…. I think my ability to work with all these individual parties together is why I was chosen, and hopefully I’ll be able to live up to that.”

Rose said he has already spoken with leadership at Alexandria City Public Schools, and will look at work that’s already been done through the Community Health Assessment and the Community Health Improvement Plan 2025 (CHIP).

The CHIP is a blueprint to address poverty, mental health, and housing policies and systems in the city. It shows that the average life expectancy in the city’s heavily Hispanic Arlandria neighborhood is 78, while more affluent area of Old Town has a life expectancy of 87. Numerous priorities in it include improving affordable housing opportunities, expanding mental health resources, and reducing poverty.

Rose lives in Columbia, Maryland, and commutes two hours a day back and forth to Alexandria — time spent listening to Walter Mosley mysteries and nonfiction sociological books, he says.

“Audio books make the commute enjoyable,” he said. “It’s definitely time I spend organizing my day.”

Via City of Alexandria

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