Changes Likely to COVID Vaccination Registration, ANC Told

707
Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) speaks at the Feb. 9 meeting of ANC 6B. Screenshot: Webex

Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) said that changes to the District’s COVID-19 vaccination registration system and plan were likely to be made later this week.

“Keep an eye out later this week,” Allen said at the Feb. 9th meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B. “The Department of Health is meeting later this week to come up with some revisions to their tiered system.”

Allen said that he had heard from neighbors frustrated by the process and by the fact that that many, although eligible, were still unvaccinated.

“The weekly pitting of neighbors against each other to compete for a small number of vaccine doses, I think is not the best way to do this,” Allen said. “I think it creates a lot of frustration. It also of course, creates a system that has significant disparity, which we have seen play out.”

Allen said he was pushing for DC Health to create a preregistration system, such as those used in other jurisdictions, notably in New Jersey and Oklahoma. With preregistration, residents  would enter necessary information. Then, DC Health would contact eligible vaccine recipients by tier as appointment become available.

Allen said that a preregistration system would reduce stress, but also make registration more accessible to those without access to internet or who are less technologically savvy.

Allen said that early messaging by DC Health about priority access to registration by Zip Code was unclear. While 20002 was included in the latest priority list, the 20003 zip code, which covers much of Capitol Hill, was not.

“Alot of Ward 6 neighbors reached out to me to say that Ward 6 was “excluded” from vaccines, and that is of course, not the case,” Allen said.

In fact, according to data provided by DC Health, as of Feb. 6 Ward 6 had the highest number of fully vaccinated individuals by ward in the city, with 1,119 people fully vaccinated, compared to 390 and 334 in Wards 7 and 8 respectively.

Still, Allen said that he didn’t think zip codes were the most efficient method of organization. He said that there is a lot of disparity in the 20003 zip code, ading that he hoped the District would work to better ways of reaching the most vulnerable neighbors.

In addition to the creation of a central registry, Allen pointed to two changes that he thought were likely to be made to the District vaccination plan.

First, Allen said it was likely that pregnant women will be moved to a place closer to the front of the “line”. Although the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has said that pregnant women are at greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, they do not qualify for earlier vaccination due to their health condition. Pregnancy is not qualified as “chronic” condition, the current category that comes closest.

Second, Allen said he hoped that there would be revisions to the age cohorts used in the tier system. Currently, individuals are either categorized as 64 and over, or from 18 to 64 —a large range that Allen said he hoped would be subdivided, for instance from 50-64.

“Stay tuned for that, I think you’ll see that later this week as they finish some of the revisions,” Allen said.

However, Allen said the bottom line is that the District simply needs more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. While the Biden administration increased the District’s weekly shipment by 15 percent last week, Allen said that was still insufficient to meet District needs. “That will remain a source of conflict and frustration until we get more doses coming out,” Allen said. “The demand for doses is going to outpace the availability, time and time again.”