DC Health’s Nesbitt: District could receive fewer vaccine doses than needed to start

If you’re anticipating getting a coronavirus vaccine once it’s shipped to the District, you might want to temper your expectations.

D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said that, as things currently stand, the District is only slated to get about a tenth of what it believes it needs for its Phase One A group, which includes health care workers. That means shy of 8,000 doses, according to Nesbitt.

“And we are not looking at just D.C. residents who are health care workers, but health care workers from Maryland, Virginia, who are in the District. That number … has been refined to the 80,000 range,” Nesbitt said.

“It’s critically important to us that we receive sufficient doses of vaccine to vaccinate our workforce, and not just our population, as about 75% of health care workers in the District are residents of Maryland, Virginia,” she added.

Nesbitt said the number is “not necessarily final,” and D.C. has asked the federal government to reconsider.

“All we know at this point is that the Operation Warp Speed team and the CDC are providing allocations to states using what they call a ‘pro rata’ share by population,” Nesbitt said.

“We have requested that they reconsider and provide the District a pro rata share based on … our workforce, given our porous borders and other requests that they have made for us to vaccinate what they consider to be essential workforce in our region.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Nesbitt said the District has purchased one cold storage device to house the vaccine being produced by Pfizer, and added that, after identifying acute care providers and pharmacies that can also do so, “there’s substantial capacity in the District of Columbia for storage of that vaccine.”

“That would be sufficient to store any of the amount of vaccine that we would be expected to receive at any one given period of time,” she said.

According to Nesbitt, D.C. expects to receive vaccine shipments either weekly or every other week.

“What the federal government is doing is that they are building upon the existing vaccine ordering. And this is called a vaccine management infrastructure between the state and the federal government, which is through the CDC,” Nesbitt said.

In addition to the daunting task of rolling the vaccine out, administering it requires training, which could lead to some delays.

“There are modules that the manufacturers are producing, but … it may not be 24 hours, or maybe a few days, before you actually start vaccinating people, because they have to be trained on how to actually do it,” Nesbitt said.

Pandemic housing grants

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a new $10 million investment in Housing Stabilization Grants on Monday.

The money will cover overdue rent from April 1 to Nov. 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This pandemic has forced an unprecedented and disproportionate financial burden on our low-income renters, through no fault of their own. By allowing housing providers to apply for assistance on behalf of tenants, we can provide swifter relief,” Bowser said. “The Housing Stabilization Grants will help us protect our affordable housing stock and keep residents in their homes.”

Applications for the grants open Tuesday and close Dec. 11.

The Housing Stabilization Grant programs will be available to two groups of housing providers:

  • Group A, to be administered by the D.C. Housing Finance Agency, will include housing providers in the District’s portfolio of income-restricted affordable housing projects financed by the Housing Production Trust Fund, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits or other local and federal affordable housing funds.
  • Group B, to be administered by the Department of Housing and Community Development, will include small housing providers with 20 units or fewer in their portfolio.

More information is available online.

DC coronavirus numbers

The District reported 104 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the total to 21,552.

No additional lives were lost. So far, the death toll stands at 680.

Track the District’s data online. Below are maps of cases by ward and neighborhood.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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