Facebook Group Helps People Find Vaccines in Northern Virginia

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With almost 70,000 Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines going to Virginia this week, there's still a lot of confusion about who can get their shot and where.

A Northern Virginia man started a Facebook group to help connect people with answers after trying to find how and where to get his mother a vaccine.

"I was navigating the rules and process for getting a vaccine, ultimately seeking out help on the internet," Chris DeMay said.

He took what he found and created the NoVA Vaccine Hunters Facebook group where people share stories and info about their ventures for vaccine.

“Getting people who are qualified to get the vaccines as easily as possible,” DeMay said. “It's not easy, but people are navigating and working together to get this done."

Tuesday’s chatter in the Facebook group revolved around a Giant grocery store in Haymarket where dozens of people had vaccine appointments scheduled. Then one by one, they received emails and calls that they were canceled.

The vaccinated population in D.C. may be overestimated in this map because some non-residents who work in D.C. are included in the totals.

Giant is registering anyone eligible in Virginia — groups 1A and 1B. But Giant said the Virginia Department of Health only wants the store vaccinating group 1A and people 65 and older, so it’s canceling everyone in 1B under 65.

Giant said, "We understand this is leading to a lot of confusion since [Virginia] is currently in Phase 1B and there are many other individuals that fall into the category."

“The worst case scenario is when somebody makes a reservation, is excited about being on the list and then gets canceled,” DeMay said. “That's heartbreaking."

He said his mother got her first shot and is scheduled for her second thanks to community members sharing information in his group.

A spokesperson for Giant Foods said it is working to update the language on its website so people know who's eligible for the vaccine at its stores.

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