Is it your turn for a COVID-19 vaccine? To find out, it’s best to begin close to home

COVID-19 vaccine supplies are expected to become more plentiful in the near future, and locations to distribute it are growing. But there may be some confusion on who is eligible for the shot, and that depends on where you get vaccinated.


For example, in Virginia, different groups of frontline, essential workers are eligible for vaccine depending on where shots are being administered. Like in Maryland, Virginia jurisdictions decide independently which groups become eligible for vaccine and when.

The Virginia Department of Health has approved vaccinations for priority groups through Phase 1b.

There are 11 categories of frontline, essential workers in Virginia’s Phase 1b, which also includes people 65 and older, people 16 through 64 years old with high-risk medical conditions or disabilities that increase their risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and people working or living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps.

The list of medical conditions considered high-risk is updated routinely as new data become available, and it can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Judgement calls about conditions noted that “might be at an increased risk” for severe illness from the virus can be made by your health care provider.

In Fairfax County, three out of the 11 frontline, essential workers groups now are eligible for vaccines: first responders, childcare and school staff and corrections and homeless shelter workers. The county expects to announce eligibility for the rest of the categories in Phase 1b in the “unspecified” future, adding that it may take months to get through Phase 1b.

Alexandria is vaccinating everyone listed in the VDH’s essential worker list, including, for example, mail carriers and grocery store workers, along with people in Phase 1a (healthcare workers), people 65 and older, and people 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions.

The Central Virginia Health District, in Lynchburg, held a closed POD (point of distribution) on Saturday for manufacturing employees, administering more than 1,700 doses over the course of the day, VDH spokesman Logan Anderson said.

“As vaccine supply increases, VDH will be expanding to additional groups of frontline essential workers, in the order listed on the fact sheet. Next up in priority are food and agriculture (including veterinarians), followed by manufacturing,” Anderson said.

You can preregister at the statewide site (although Fairfax County doesn’t participate), or call 855-VAX-IN-VA.


In Maryland, all categories through Phase 1c are eligible, according to the State Department of Health – but vaccine supplies are limited.

Individual counties, and even vendors on state contracts within counties, are making independent decisions about allowing different priority groups to sign up for vaccine appointments.

Montgomery County’s Health Department, for example, only is scheduling appointments through Priority Group Phase 1c, Tier 1: That opens vaccine to people 65 to 74 years old.

Anyone with questions about eligibility can call Maryland’s help line at 855-MD-GoVAX.


In D.C., the city is scheduling vaccinations for people through what it has designated as the first tier of Phase 1c, which includes 16 and 17-year-olds with qualifying medical conditions such as asthma and obesity. The full list of qualifying medical conditions, as noted above, is on the CDC website.

D.C. is launching a vaccine appointments preregistration system on Wednesday.

States and localities have been offered guidance to reference for choosing who should be offered vaccine in Phases 1b and 1c from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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