DC reveals COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan

The District unveiled its coronavirus vaccine plan Wednesday, outlining who will get the shot first and where distribution sites are.

For the initial wave of vaccines, D.C. will receive 6,825 doses, according to D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.

The shipments — seven boxes that carry 975 shots each — will be sent to six sites “that have the necessary equipment to store the Pfizer vaccine,” most located in Northwest D.C.:

  • MedStar Washington Hospital Center
  • Howard University Hospital
  • The George Washington University Hospital
  • Children’s National Hospital
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

Those 6,825 doses cover less than 10% of D.C.’s front-line health care workers, who number around 85,000.

Nesbitt outlined the priority groups, which include health care workers, first responders, essential workers and at-risk D.C. residents, as well as the rollout plan.

“The District of Columbia will implement a phased approach to vaccination,” Nesbitt said, noting that “each phase does not have to be fully vaccinated before we move on to the next phase.”

“Within each one of these phases, Phase 1A primarily being health care workers and first responders; Phase 1B being essential workers and at-risk residents; Phase 2, the rest of the Phase 1 populations and the general public; and then Phase 3,” which is the general public.

Nesbitt said those who get the vaccine “will be tied to settings and not necessarily job roles.”

“It is not necessarily just the doctors and nurses who work in those environments, but it also includes the techs, environmental services, staff, etc.”

She also explained why the groups were chosen.

“There’s a lot that goes into these decisions, and a lot of smart and capable people working to identify these priority groups. But at the end of the day, vaccinating health care workers first ensures we have a healthy workforce that’s available to take care of and treat sick people, and protecting the workers helps to protect the patients.”

More vaccine doses will come at a later date, Nesbitt said, adding that she believes the District will be “receiving or being able to access additional vaccine on a weekly or every other week basis.”

D.C.’s ability to access additional doses is contingent on Pfizer’s production schedule.

“We are responsible for communicating back to the CDC how much vaccine has been used in our community out of that original allocation of 6,825 doses,” Nesbitt said. “And then they will release to us additional doses of vaccine that we can request be shipped here for use. And those doses will be made available to us through the ordering system on a weekly or every other week basis.”

Nesbitt said health care workers will be notified by their employer when they’re up for vaccination, and they will receive instructions on how to make an appointment for vaccination. Health care institutions themselves may vaccinate workers through occupational health programs.

“For our health care workers who work more in the community settings and outpatient settings, they will have access to vaccines through health centers, through commercial and retail pharmacies, and they will have access to a technology solution that allows them, once they receive notification that their priority group is up for vaccination, in terms of how to register for an appointment to get vaccinated at any of those locations that are convenient for them,” Nesbitt said.

She warned that most D.C. residents will not immediately be able to get the vaccine shot.

“We’re not yet to Phase 1B, where more citizens, I hate to use the word ‘average,’ because every person has their own unique set of circumstances that would make them eligible for the vaccine at different times. So some people who are above the age 65 are going to be eligible for certain periods of time, people with certain health conditions are going to be eligible at a certain period of time,” Nesbitt said. “And as those criteria are announced, they will receive instructions, and we’ll make those instructions public, and all of the different ways that we do in terms of how to register.”

There’s no timetable yet for precisely when the first vaccine doses will get to the District.

Asked about giving a specific timeline, Nesbitt said: “It’s impossible to do that and I would surmise that anyone who is doing that is, you know, ambitious.”

Read the full situation report online.

DC coronavirus numbers

D.C. reported 244 new coronavirus cases Monday, bringing the total number of cases to 24,098.

Four additional COVID-19 deaths were reported. So far, 708 District residents have lost their lives to the virus.

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.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up