Bowser Outlines Vaccine Plan for DC, as Demand Overtakes Supply

A member of medical staff holds a phial of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine jab at Guy's Hospital at the start of the largest ever immunisation programme in the UK's history on December 8, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Victoria Jones - Pool / Getty Images)

By Amie Knowles

January 21, 2021

More than 6,000 extra doses became available this week.

WASHINGTON, DC – The District has a plan in place, people who want the vaccine and a method to distribute it. Now they just need enough of it to go around.

“Let me just say that we look forward to working with the Biden administration to figure out how we can get more doses of vaccine to the people of Washington,” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

The mayor expressed knowledge of high demand in D.C., as well as other cities throughout the United States, for the vaccine.

“We will continue to advocate for more doses so that we can protect more people in Washington quickly,” Bowser said.

As of Jan. 16, the district received 62,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Out of those doses, the locality administered over 41,000 shots.

“We have had 6,500 additional doses becoming available this week,” Bowser said. “The administration of those does are in various stages of scheduling and people going in to make their appointments.”

The mayor praised the local vaccination efforts.

“The numbers make it clear that we’re getting the doses out. Our systems to get them are working,” Bowser said. “But we simply don’t have enough vaccine to meet the demand in our city.”

RELATED: The COVID-19 Vaccine is Available. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Allocating the Doses

Bowser laid out a detailed plan for the vaccine distribution, breaking down the allocation for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines scheduled for the following week.

Right at 2,975 doses of the 5,600 Moderna vaccines will go through the district’s portal appointment system. A total of 1,500 doses will go to those with appointments booked last week. The others go to pharmacies to vaccinate pharmacy and provider staff, residents of intermediate care facilities, community residential facilities and group homes. Unity Healthcare will receive 400 doses to vaccinate homeless individuals and Unity patients. United Medical Center will receive 200 doses for patients booked directly through their facility.

Washington, DC will receive 8,775 Pfizer vaccine doses. In-person public school staff will receive 3,900 of those doses, followed by 1,950 for charter school in-person staff. The district will give 1,950 doses to Kaiser Permanente for the Metropolitan Police Department and their eligible patients and 975 doses will go to Sibley Memorial and Johns Hopkins for Senior Housing-District of Columbia Hospital Association initiatives and their patients.

“This number changes and we often don’t know exactly what the number is until mid-week,” Bowser said.  

A Disproportionate Burden

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the District of Columbia Department of Health in Washington, D.C., expressed that certain priority groups focused on those with the highest possibility for severe illness and death if they contracted COVID-19, as well as those with a disproportionate burden of disease and death.

“We have dedicated doses of vaccine and partnerships with healthcare providers to be able to initiate vaccination with them next week,” Nesbitt said. “That was critically important for us.”

Going forward, the mayor noted the district released appointments on Thursday at 9 a.m. to eligible residents in priority zip codes. The zip codes predominantly cover those in wards 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8.

On Friday at 9 a.m. the district plans to release appointments to residents in all zip codes.

Why Can’t Childcare Providers Get the Vaccine?

While in-person staff members in the public school system and at charter schools are eligible to receive the vaccine, another childcare population did not make the list.

Childcare providers outside of the K-12 designation will have to wait longer for their COVID-19 shot.

“We’ve had a few inquiries about childcare workers as well. And the truth is, if we had more vaccine, they would be included in next week’s round too. But the reality is we’re working as fast as we can with the vaccine that’s available,” Bowser said. “Our plan is still to prioritize childcare workers and get them out just as soon as possible.”

Challenges for DC Senior Population

Nesbitt also highlighted certain struggles community members might face, which could prevent their inoculation.

“… Some of these seniors who live in these housing communities may have transportation challenges. Or even with the transportation network that is put together for them, the seniors may be a little reluctant to schedule appointments at these sites because of the coordination that is required for scheduling their transport,” Nesbitt said.

Taking the senior population’s challenges into consideration, the district worked with local professionals to pinpoint 14 properties with 100 to 200 seniors living there. Seniors living within those communities will start receiving vaccinations next week.

 “You’ll know that even with our limited supply of vaccine that we’re receiving that’s simply not enough to meet demand, we’ve been able to dedicate doses of vaccine in the coming week to these critically important efforts,” Nesbitt said.

Amie Knowles reports for Dogwood. You can reach her at [email protected]

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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