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Mar 08

Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine: Pre-Registration to Appointment

Posted on March 8, 2021 at 3:20 PM by Nancy McCormick

The current process for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine can be confusing. You may have heard about the names of different systems and be wondering what happens after you submit a pre-registration form. We explain the whole process for you here.

It is important to understand that the pre-registration process is necessary because there is not a sufficient supply of COVID-19 vaccine to vaccinate everyone right now. When vaccine quantities are limited, public health officials identify those who should receive the vaccine first using a number of criteria. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has outlined priority groups and categories to systematically vaccinate individuals. 

The process to vaccinate individuals includes several steps outlined below. Each of these steps includes different processes or systems that you may encounter as you move through the system to get a vaccine. 


The first step is submitting a pre-registration. To indicate your interest in receiving a COVID-19 vaccine from Loudoun County, if you have not done so already you should submit a pre-registration form online or by calling 703-737-8300 if you do not have access to the internet. By completing the pre-registration, which is the same process throughout Virginia, individuals indicate their place in the various priority groups established by VDH. 

Residents may have already pre-registered for a COVID-19 vaccine in one of two ways: (1) through Loudoun County’s pre-screening survey that was open through 5:00 p.m. on February 12; or (2) through the statewide pre-registration system that launched on February 16. 

Information from these forms goes on to a waitlist from which vaccinations appointments are made.


The submitted pre-registration forms create a database of names and contact information from people who have submitted the forms online or by phone. There are currently two waitlists: 
  1. Loudoun’s local waitlist of people who submitted pre-registrations by 5:00 p.m. on February 12; and 
  2. a waitlist of people who pre-registered using the statewide system beginning February 16. 
Loudoun County is currently using its original local waitlist to make appointments in the order in which forms were received and in accordance with mandated priorities.  

The Commonwealth of Virginia is working hard to continually improve the database of names and contact information from people pre-registered through the new statewide system. Once Loudoun County has exhausted its existing waitlist, vaccination appointments will be offered to those who pre-registered in the statewide system on February 16 and later. 

The list of individuals who pre-registered through Loudoun County by 5:00 p.m. on February 12 was merged into a statewide system that allows individuals to ”check the list” and “verify & update your record.” Some individuals who have pre-registered have been unable to find themselves on the list. VDH continues to migrate data from local health department systems, which may impact when your pre-registration shows up in the search function. If you have difficulty with the search function, check the spelling of your name and email address carefully and consider whether you may have used a different name, phone number or email address in the past. Despite the challenges with the front-end functionality, we have been able to verify in the back end of the system that pre-registrations are being captured on the waitlist. 

Individuals move from the waitlist into appointment scheduling if they are eligible based on the current scheduling priorities and in the order in which their pre-registration was received.

Appointment Scheduling 

When it is time to schedule your appointment, most individuals will be notified through email. If you requested to schedule by phone in your pre-registration, you will receive a phone call. Currently, Loudoun County uses the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) system for appointment scheduling. VAMS was developed for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and deployed in local jurisdictions to support the vaccination process. 

As vaccine doses and appointments become available, names and email addresses from the waitlist are uploaded by Loudoun County into the VAMS system. The number of vaccine doses available determines the number of people who are uploaded into VAMS at any one time. In addition, state mandates for prioritization of people on the waitlist also determine whose turn it is for a vaccine.

If you will be scheduling online, you can expect to receive two emails. The first email is from the Health Department and provides detailed instructions you should follow to complete the scheduling process. Very soon after, your name and email address are loaded into VAMS, which generates a second email from the CDC to you. The email includes a link that prompts you to register by creating an account in VAMS. This process includes submitting basic personal and demographic information and will require you to authenticate your account through email. Just follow the prompts to register. 

After your account creation is complete, you can choose from the list of available appointment slots, to choose the date and time that is most convenient. Loudoun County is currently receiving shipments of three types of vaccine. As supplies of Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccine allow, you may choose clinics based on the type of vaccine available. 

Once your appointment is scheduled, you will receive an email confirmation with your appointment date, time and location. Approximately 24 hours before your appointment, you will receive an email that will prompt you to complete a pre-vaccination questionnaire to screen for COVID-19 symptoms, as well as relevant medical conditions, including allergies. 

If you scheduled your appointment online and need to cancel or reschedule for any reason, you can log back into your VAMS account to change your appointment. 

If you need to schedule your appointment by phone for any reason, such as you do not have access to the internet, the Health Department will contact you by phone to schedule the appointment for you over the phone.

Please note that Virginia is in the process of standing up a single, statewide appointment-making system called “PrepMOD.” Once available, this system will replace VAMS and provide the same purpose with enhanced functionality. Anyone who began their vaccine series by scheduling in VAMS will complete the process in VAMS. More information about PrepMOD will be published when the system goes live.

Going to Your Appointment

Once you have made an appointment for a vaccine, go to your appointment as scheduled. When you arrive, you will check in and then be directed to the vaccination area. 

You will not be able to choose a vaccine brand at the time of vaccination. As stated above, at the time you make your appointment, you may be able to choose a clinic based on the type of vaccine available. Once you are vaccinated, you will be directed to wait either fifteen or thirty minutes, depending on your medical needs. 

Second Dose Appointments 

If the vaccine that you receive requires two doses, you will need to schedule a second appointment. Individuals who scheduled online will be reminded to schedule their second appointment by logging back into VAMS and choosing a date and time for a second dose that is at least 21 or 28 days later, depending on the type of vaccine you received. Individuals who scheduled over the phone can schedule their second appointment before leaving the vaccination site. 

Please Be Patient

Loudoun County recognizes how difficult it is to wait for a COVID-19 vaccine during this time when supplies are limited. The current wait for an appointment from the time of pre-registration is approximately six to eight weeks. We are working as quickly as we can to vaccinate as many people as we can as efficiently as possible. The county is prepared for the arrival of an increasing number of vaccine doses weekly so that we can speed up the pace at which vaccination appointments are offered and work through the waitlist more quickly. 

In addition, we anticipate that in the coming months, as vaccine supplies increase, you will have more opportunities to receive a vaccine from more community providers, which also will accelerate the rate at which individuals are vaccinated. 

You can follow our vaccination progress at If you have not already done so, you can pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine at

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