The Washington Post

What you need to know about Mary­land’s, Vir­ginia’s and the Dis­trict’s rules and pro­ce­dures for get­ting a coro­n­avirus shot.

- BY JULIE ZAUZMER julie.zauzmer@wash­post.com Re­becca Tan con­trib­uted to this re­port. Health · Public Health · Medical Activism · Anti-Vaccers · Medicine · U.S. News · Society · Vaccines · Alternative Medicine · Medical Treatments · Maryland · Virginia · Washington · Larry Hogan · Montgomery County

More than 1 out of ev­ery 100 Amer­i­cans have now been vac­ci­nated against the novel coro­n­avirus, the virus that has over­turned life as we know it for nearly a year. In the Washington re­gion, more than 200,000 peo­ple have got­ten shots. With mil­lions more to go, here are an­swers to some ques­tions you might have about how the Dis­trict, Mary­land and Vir­ginia are administer­ing vac­cines — and when and how you can get your shot.

Q: Who can get a vac­cine right now in the Washington re­gion? A: The first peo­ple to get shots in D.C., Mary­land and Vir­ginia, like most of the coun­try, are those who work in health-care jobs that di­rectly ex­pose them to con­ta­gions. Work­ers el­i­gi­ble for the vac­cine right now in­clude many who work in hos­pi­tals and ur­gent-care fa­cil­i­ties, am­bu­lance work­ers and home health aides. All three ju­ris­dic­tions have started administer­ing vac­cines to peo­ple liv­ing in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties such as nurs­ing homes.

Some work­ers get the vac­cine at their work­place. Oth­ers can reg­is­ter for an ap­point­ment at a phar­macy or health cen­ter to get vac­ci­nated there.

Q: How many doses have been given out so far?

A: As of early this week, Vir­ginia has re­ceived just un­der 482,000 doses of vac­cine and is sched­uled to re­ceive more than 100,000 more by Satur­day. So far, the state re­ported vac­ci­nat­ing more than 126,000 peo­ple, al­though of­fi­cials say the ac­tual num­ber is higher be­cause a new on­line data sys­tem has made it dif­fi­cult for providers to log their per­for­mance.

Mary­land has re­ceived 292,000 doses and is sched­uled to re­ceive more than 120,000 ad­di­tional doses by Satur­day. So far, the state has vac­ci­nated more than 87,000 peo­ple.

The Dis­trict has re­ceived more than 35,000 doses and is sched­uled to re­ceive an ad­di­tional 17,000 by Satur­day. The city has ad­min­is­tered more than 17,000 shots, but the true count is un­known be­cause more than 40 per­cent of the phar­ma­cies administer­ing shots have not yet started cor­rectly us­ing the city’s vac­cine­in­for­ma­tion re­port­ing sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to D.C. Health Di­rec­tor Laquan­dra Nes­bitt.

Q: Which groups will get vac­ci­nated next?

A: All three ju­ris­dic­tions next will of­fer vac­cines to the el­derly, peo­ple with cer­tain med­i­cal con­di­tions and es­sen­tial work­ers.

In the Dis­trict, health of­fi­cials made vac­cines avail­able to all res­i­dents 65 and older be­gin­ning Mon­day; to gro­cery store work­ers, child-care work­ers, el­e­men­tary through high school teach­ers and other front-line work­ers be­gin­ning Jan. 25; and peo­ple with cer­tain chronic med­i­cal con­di­tions and re­main­ing high-pri­or­ity work­ers such as es­sen­tial govern­ment em­ploy­ees be­gin­ning Feb. 1.

Mary­land next will of­fer vac­cines to peo­ple 75 and older, to res­i­dents and staff of “spe­cial needs group homes,” and to teach­ers be­gin­ning about Feb. 1. Af­ter that, start­ing in early March, Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) said the state will vac­ci­nate peo­ple over 65 and es­sen­tial work­ers, in­clud­ing gro­cery work­ers, pub­lic tran­sit work­ers, Postal Ser­vice work­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ing work­ers and more.

Vir­ginia’s plan is sim­i­lar. Next up will be peo­ple 75 and older and front-line es­sen­tial work­ers; and then peo­ple 65 and older, all adults with high-risk med­i­cal con­di­tions and re­main­ing es­sen­tial work­ers.

Q: Which med­i­cal con­di­tions will qual­ify res­i­dents for early coro­n­avirus vac­cines?

A: Health de­part­ments in the Dis­trict, Mary­land and Vir­ginia have not yet clar­i­fied which health con­di­tions will qual­ify res­i­dents to get early ac­cess to vac­ci­na­tion, but they might in­clude di­a­betes, asthma, cancer and other con­di­tions.

In the Dis­trict, Nes­bitt said she will make the list based on which dis­eases make a per­son most likely to suf­fer se­vere ef­fects from the virus, but also based on how many health-care work­ers and el­derly res­i­dents choose to get vac­ci­nated this month, which will give the health de­part­ment a bet­ter sense of how many peo­ple it can of­fer vac­cines in Fe­bru­ary.

Q: If I work in one state but live in an­other, where should I get vac­ci­nated?

A: Across the re­gion, health-care work­ers can get vac­ci­nated in the state in which they work. Be­cause the Dis­trict has a large num­ber of health-care work­ers who re­side in Mary­land and Vir­ginia, both states gave thou­sands of doses al­lot­ted to them by the fed­eral govern­ment to the Dis­trict to help vac­ci­nate work­ers at D.C. hos­pi­tals.

This pol­icy should apply to other es­sen­tial work­ers go­ing for­ward. The Dis­trict has clar­i­fied, for ex­am­ple, that teach­ers who work in D.C. but live else­where will be able to get shots in the Dis­trict.

Q: Can I make an ap­point­ment or reg­is­ter now to get a vac­cine?

A: Un­less you’re a health-care worker, no. You may have seen a web­site or a bar code to sign up for a vac­cine ap­point­ment, but lo­cal health de­part­ments in D.C., Mary­land and Vir­ginia have urged res­i­dents not to use those links, which are meant for health-care work­ers at the mo­ment.

Q: How can I find out when it’s my turn to get a vac­cine?

A: In Mary­land, res­i­dents who are signed up for the state’s emer­gency text alerts will get a text mes­sage each time the state starts vac­ci­nat­ing a new group. To sign up, send a text mes­sage to 898211 with the phrase “Mdready.”

Vir­ginia res­i­dents can check vdh.vir­ginia.gov/covid-19vac­cine and res­i­dents of D.C. can check coro­n­avirus.dc.gov/ vac­cine for more in­for­ma­tion on vac­cine stages.

Q: Where are the vac­cines be­ing ad­min­is­tered?

A: Some vac­cines are be­ing ad­min­is­tered at hos­pi­tals to the em­ploy­ees there, and at nurs­ing homes to both work­ers and res­i­dents. Most are be­ing dis­trib­uted to phar­ma­cies — in­clud­ing ma­jor chains Gi­ant and Safe­way — and to non­profit health cen­ters in­clud­ing Mary’s Cen­ter, Unity Health Care and oth­ers.

In Mont­gomery County, lead­ers have dis­cussed host­ing mass vac­ci­na­tion clin­ics, where peo­ple would line up at a pub­lic fa­cil­ity for shots. Else­where in the re­gion, the plan is for coro­n­avirus vac­cines to be ad­min­is­tered to the pub­lic much like an­nual flu shots, mostly at phar­ma­cies.

Q: Are phar­ma­cies giv­ing vac­cines to any­one if they have ex­tra doses left at the end of the day?

A: Law stu­dent David Macmil­lan’s now-vi­ral Tik­tok video seems to be the source of this ru­mor. Macmil­lan and a friend got lucky: They were shop­ping at a Gi­ant gro­cery store in North­east Washington when a phar­ma­cist of­fered to vac­ci­nate them be­cause she had an open vial of the vac­cine that would oth­er­wise be dis­carded and the store was clos­ing soon.

Could the same thing hap­pen to you? It’s ex­tremely un­likely.

The D.C. health de­part­ment does urge phar­ma­cists to use doses on any avail­able per­son rather than let them ex­pire. How­ever, hos­pi­tals and health cen­ters have an on-call list of their own staff mem­bers who are not front-line work­ers but who could get vac­ci­nated if an ex­tra dose needs to be used. Hang­ing out at your nearest phar­macy or call­ing gro­cery stores is not at all likely to get you a vac­ci­na­tion — and spend­ing ex­tra time in pub­lic places is a very bad idea if you’re not vac­ci­nated.

Ba­si­cally, if you’re not an es­sen­tial worker or in an­other pri­or­i­tized group, the best thing to do is stay home and wait.

Q: Are coro­n­avirus vac­ci­na­tions free?

A: Yes. Un­der fed­eral law, Amer­i­cans won’t pay for the vac­cine.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA