All 6,700 of the available COVID-19 vaccination appointments for the week of Jan. 11 were filled within hours of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 10 a.m. press conference, DC Health confirmed Monday evening.
“It is good news that there is such demand,” said a spokesperson for DC Health.
It was the first day the District offered vaccination appointments to members of the community who do not work in health care settings. Eligible persons are those defined in Phase 1a Tier 1 of the District Plan, including residents 65 years or better and those in congregate living situations.
Those eligible in the previous phase, including health care workers and first responders can still get the vaccine, meaning that up to 140,000 DC residents are eligible to be vaccinated. However, many will already have been vaccinated through their employer.
Additional appointment slots will be released when a new alotment of vaccines are received, Nesbitt added, likely mid-week. Residents can sign up for email or text alerts to be notified when there is more availability in the schedule or when appointments can be made for the next week.
The DC Health spokesperson said that appointment slots are based on available vaccine. That complicates matters, because the number of vaccines sent to each state is determined by overall adult population, rather than by the number of high-risk individuals or health care workers living or working there.
So far, 26,672 doses have been administered in the District out of the 45,425 doses received. Only a portion of those are for community distribution, Nesbitt said Monday; many are allocated to healthcare and congregate facilities. An additional 8,300 doses will become available the week of Jan. 11. About 4,000 appointments were made available this week from Tuesday to Sunday, Nesbitt said.
Nesbitt added that some of the larger health care systems are separately reaching out to seniors. Kaiser began outreach this week, she said; GW Medical Faculty Associates will begin either later this week or early next week.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) 6B05 said he had written the Mayor’s office to express concern with the process, noting that seniors had been told by District officials that registration would begin at noon. However, registration was available as early as 8 a.m., and many locations indicated no more times were available by early afternnon Monday.
Holtzman added that the website did not immediately indicate why some attempts to register the afternoon of Jan. 11 were unsuccessful, wheter that be a lack of vaccine, appointments or availablility at a particular location (this has since been corrected).
The Commissioner said that user irritation could work against the intended purpose.
“[I]f residents get frustrated and crazy trying to unsuccessfully get what they view as a Life-saving vaccine,” he wrote in an email to the Mayor’s office shared with constituents, “the result is going to be some people who give up and don’t check any more and who, despite being in priority vulnerable groups, do not get (early) vaccinations.”