COVID Vaccine Update: Questions Answered

By Jennifer Fei, Associate Editor (The information below is accurate as of 1/25)

We answer pressing questions about the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. The racial digital divide has also impacted vaccine scheduling since residents who are reliant on phone access have noted hours-long wait times. This is an ever-evolving story.

Who can currently get a COVID-19 vaccine?

The DC Department of Health announced that COVID-19 vaccination appointments will be released every Thursday at 9:00am to District residents who live in priority ZIP codes, are 65 years of age and older, and/or are health care workers. For Ward 6’s Southwest residents, the only priority ZIP codes listed for Southwest DC are 20032, 20260, 20373, and 20593.

Additional appointments for District residents 65 years and older and healthcare workers in all DC zip codes will be released every Friday at 9:00am.

DC is currently in phase 1A and 1B of the vaccination program which prioritizes individuals in nursing homes, health care workers, frontline essential workers, EMS workers, and DC residents 65 years and older. View Mayor Bowser’s most recent January 21st situational update here.

Beginning January 25, in-person staff, including teachers and support staff, at DCPS and DC Public Charter Schools will start getting the vaccine. Members of the Metropolitan Police Department and “Continuity of District Government” personnel will also begin their vaccinations through Kaiser.

How do I sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine if I am eligible?

DC residents 65 years and older and healthcare workers can make an appointment to get the COVID-19 vaccine through the portal or by calling the District’s coronavirus call center at 855-363-0333. Residents can schedule a vaccination through the call center Monday through Friday from 8:00am until 7:00pm and on Saturdays from 8:00am until 4:00pm. Residents can also connect to the call center by dialing 311.

You will be asked to provide demographic information, medical history, COVID-19 history, contact information, and insurance information (if you have insurance). If you do not have health insurance, you are still able to get the vaccine for free. Once you make your first appointment you will be given a personal confirmation code that you should take to your appointment, along with your photo ID and insurance card (if you have insurance).

DCPS teachers and staff who are/will be reporting in-person should have received an email last week with information on scheduling a vaccine appointment. DC Public Charter Schools will receive vaccine information from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

What if I cannot secure an appointment and/or am ineligible for a vaccine at this time?

Mayor Bowser and DC Health have continued to emphasize that current demand for the vaccine in DC is much higher than the supply being provided by the federal government. As a result, appointments fill up quickly and many eligible residents have been unable to secure appointments.

As soon as February, DC plans to give people with certain chronic conditions priority to receive the COVID vaccine. However, offering vaccines to such a large population will be a “logistical challenge” for the city. DC has not yet announced when the general public will be able to get the vaccine. However, President Biden’s nominee for surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, stated in December that the general public should be prepared to wait until mid-summer or early fall of 2021 to access the vaccine.

Because DC is struggling to meet demands for the vaccine and not all DC residents are eligible for the vaccine at this time, it is extremely important to continue taking necessary precautions to help slow the spread of COVID-19: “Wear a mask, wash your hands often, stay 6 feet away from other people, and stay home if you are sick.” If you have not already, you can also get a flu vaccine to help you stay healthy.