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Testify On District COVID-19 Vaccination Plan

Ward 7 Councilmember Vincent C. Gray (D), the Chairperson of the DC Council Committee on Health announced Monday that he will hold a public oversight roundtable on the District’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

The roundtable will examine the District COVID-19 vaccination plan over a two-day period. On the first day, Friday, January 29th the committee will hear from public witnesses from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. An email from Gray’s office said that the committee “welcomes feedback from the public regarding their experiences with the vaccination process and suggestions for improvements.”

On the second day, Monday, February 1st, the Committee will hear testimony from government witnesses from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m..

Issues that will be discussed include: the effectiveness of the District’s vaccinate.dc.gov enrollment portal and call-in number, the enrollment process, communication and outreach, and the equitable prioritization of vaccines.

Frustration and Demand

Recent experience shows that demand for the vaccine remains high, and residents have expressed frustration with their inability to access appointments.

The 6,500 vaccination appoints made available Jan. 11 filled within three hours. 1,436 vaccination appointments that opened at 9 a.m. Monday were allocated in 25 minutes. 740 appointments accessible to all zip codes the following week were gone in seven minutes.

“Let’s be real clear; we’re talking about the release of 4,000 [or] 6,000 –up to 8,000 appointments [per week[ where our need is much greater,” Bowser said Tuesday. “So, as long as we are working in this very intense period of scarcity over the vaccine, we know that people who need and want the vaccine won’t be able to get it. So almost every system is imperfect, until we have enough vaccine.”

Bowser said the District continues to advocate for the federal government to send more vaccine. Her Chief of Staff said that the District had told federal partners, including the incoming administration, “if you get us the vaccine, we’ll get it out.”

Asked why the DC Government did not create a central registry, Bowser said that until the District has enough vaccine, there will still have to be a way to choose who will receive the vaccination first.

After the Jan. 19 conference, Chief of Staff John J. Falcicchio elaborated on the concerns about a registry, given the limited supply of vaccines. “What we don’t want to do is set the expectation that people are on a list, and that they are about to get it,” he said.

Bowser said the District continues to advocate for the federal government to send more vaccine. Her Chief of Staff said that the District had told federal partners, including the incoming administration, “if you get us the vaccine, we’ll get it out.”

District seniors (65 years and older) and healthcare workers can continue to register for vaccination appointments using the vaccinate.dc.gov portal or by calling the District’s coronavirus call center at 855-363-0333.

Going forward, appointments will be released every Thursday at 9:00 a.m. to eligible residents in priority zip codes, and additional appointments will be released every Friday at 9:00 a.m. for all DC zip codes.

If DC’s weekly vaccine allotment from the federal government changes, this schedule is likely to change in accordance. The District’s goal is the make the vaccine available promptly as supply comes in from the federal government and to ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccine across all eight wards, Bowser said. 

How to Testify

Persons wishing to provide oral testimony on Jan. 29 should contact Malcolm Cameron, Legislative Analyst of the Committee on Health by e-mail at mcameron@dccouncil.us or by phone at (202) 341-4425 before 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 28, 2021.

When sending an e-mail or leaving a voicemail, please provide the following information:

  • first and last name;
  • The name of the organization represented and title with the organization (if any);
  • presenter e-mail address and phone number.

Cameron will email a confirmation of your attendance with an agenda, witness list, and attached instructions for accessing the virtual roundtable on the evening of Jan. 28th. Oral testimony will be strictly limited to three minutes to allow everyone an opportunity to testify.

For accommodation requests, including spoken language or sign language interpretation, please inform the Committee office of the need as soon as possible but no later than five (5) business days before the proceeding.

The Council will make every effort to fulfill timely requests, however requests received in less than five (5) business days may not be fulfilled and alternatives may be offered.

Persons wishing to provide written testimony should e-mail their written testimony to Malcolm Cameron, Legislative Analyst for the Committee on Health, at mcameron@dccuncil.us before 6:00 p.m. on Monday, February 15, 2021. Please indicate that you are submitting testimony for this roundtable in the subject line of the e-mail.

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine and District planning by visiting coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccine

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