Washingtonians Over 65 Eligible to Receive Vaccine

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Mayor Bowser (D) speaks during Monday's situational update report. Screenshot: Facebook Live.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt spoke during Monday afternoon’s situational update about the District’s response to the covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine rollout. 

As of Monday morning, DC residents ages 65 and older can make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine through vaccinate.dc.gov or by calling 855-363-0333.

When scheduling, residents will be asked to provide demographic information, a brief medical history, COVID-19 history and insurance and contact information. Insurance is not required to get the vaccine and it is free for all DC residents. 

Over 26,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the District. About 80,000 people are now eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1b Tier 1, in addition to the 60,000 people eligible in Phase 1a who were not vaccinated.

8,300 doses are slated to become available this week for DC residents. About 4,000 appointments were available this week from Tuesday to Sunday, Nesbitt said. There are no plans to announce when appointments are filled, she said, but new appointments will be released when a new alotment of vaccines are received, she added, likely mid-week.

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.

He added that the website did not indicate why some attempts to register were unsuccessful, rather that be a lack of vaccine, appointments or availablility at a particular location, he said the irritation could work against the 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.”

At the press conference, DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said there are limited options for where to get the vaccine right now. “Supplies are constrained, and as-such, CDC recommends vaccines should be administered in closed settings best suited for reaching initial critical populations,” said Nesbitt.

“Phase 2 assumes that there is likely sufficient supply to meet demand, thereby permitting an expansion beyond initial populations and the use of a broader provider network.”Dr. Nesbitt acknowledged the common side effects of the vaccine including pain at the injection site, mild fever, sore muscles and fatigue. 

“These reactions simply mean that the vaccine is working,” Nesbitt said. “For most people these side effects will last no longer than a day or two.” 

Bowser emphasized the safety and importance of the COVID-19 vaccine in helping the District and the nation move forward in recovery from the pandemic.

“Vaccination is the key to helping us reunite with friends and family and getting our lives back,” Bowser said. 

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with HillRag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected].

With additional reporting from Elizabeth O’Gorek.