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COVID Vaccine Update: Public Roundtable This Friday, New Appointments and Transportation Available

Posted by
Riley Gercak
on
January 27, 2021

Councilmember Brooke Pinto, Ward 2

Opening Remarks

Neighbors – thank you for staying engaged and committed to receiving your vaccines as soon as possible. I want to provide an update from what we know this week including:

  • Who is Eligible for an Appointment
  • How to Obtain an Appointment
  • Updates to the Portal and Coronavirus Call Center
  • Vaccination Sites
  • Transportation to Appointments
  • Vaccine Availability from the Federal Government
  • Public Roundtable 1/29  

Yours in Service,

Brooke

Who Is Eligible for an Appointment?

The following populations are now receiving the vaccine in Washington, DC:

  • Individuals who work in health care settings;
  • Members of the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department;
  • Residents of long-term and intermediate care facilities and residents of community residential facilities/group homes;
  • DC residents who are 65 years old and older;
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness;
  • Members of the Metropolitan Police Department;
  • Personnel responsible for Continuity of District Government; and,
  • Teachers and staff who are, or will be, working in person at a traditional or public charter school.  

This week, DC Health will also begin on-site vaccinations at two DC Housing Authority senior properties in Ward 2 as part of the senior vaccination initiative. Also in the initial stages of rollout are vaccinations for Department of Corrections employees and residents. Earlier this week, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education also contacted licensed childcare providers and private and independent school leaders to begin collecting contact information for in-person staff to ensure that as vaccine supply allows, the District can work quickly to make appointments available to eligible staff.


The following link has the different Phases and Tiers for vaccination: https://tinyurl.com/y4q4vsx7. Currently we are in Phase 1B, Tier 2.  


How to Obtain an Appointment

Appointments will be made available every Thursday morning at 9 a.m. for high priority zip codes. Every Friday morning at 9 a.m. appointments are available for ALL residents in the aforementioned eligible categories. You can obtain an appointment at https://vaccinate.dc.gov or by calling the District’s hotline at 855-363-0333.

This week, in-person staff, including teachers and support staff, at DC Public Schools (DCPS) and DC Public Charter Schools and members of the Metropolitan Police Department will begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Eligible staff members will receive direct communication to schedule their appointment and should not try to make an appointment using the methods listed below. We understand the frustration that childcare workers were not included in this next phase of vaccine appointments. More phases will be announced over the next several weeks.

Appointments are available through DC Health and we encourage you to sign-up for alerts regarding appointment availability at https://vaccinate.dc.gov

Appointments may also be obtained directly through the following facilities:

Howard University Hospital

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

The George Washington University Hospital

Sibley Memorial Hospital

United Medical Center

• Kaiser Permanente members should visit kp.org/DCvaccine

Please visit these websites to learn more whether the facility is only accepting former patients or new patients.

Updates to the Vaccine.DC.Gov Portal and Coronavirus Call Center

Thank you very much for writing in to make suggestions to the web portal systems. Councilmember Pinto relayed these suggestions in a letter with her colleagues and the Department of Health has adopted some of these recommendations. Improvements made to vaccinate.dc.gov include:

  • Removal of CAPTCHA during the booking process: the only remaining CAPTCHA (with enhanced performance) is during the initial screening and is required to secure the site
  • Increased site resources: the site was moved to better infrastructure to support the numbers of users clicking on the site at one time and to increase the speed of confirmation email delivery
  • Removal of the “change booking” capability: this functionality was removed since new appointments could not be guaranteed and the user did not know if other appointments were available until having already canceled their appointment.

Improvements going into effect tomorrow include:

Enhanced vaccination site management: the website will automatically hide vaccination sites where all appointments are booked; previously, this was manually performed and would lead to the public seeing sites without available appointments

  • Streamlined process: the removal of questions regarding insurance information will further streamline the process of booking an appointment
  • Site navigation improvements: updated help text and easier to understand buttons will make the website easier to navigate
  • Additional confirmation options: users will now have the option to print a confirmation page in lieu of showing an email  


Vaccination Sites

Additional locations will be opened as the District receives additional vaccines and additional vaccines are approved for use. DC Health is optimistic that more vaccines to prevent COVID-19 will be approved for use by the FDA this spring. These vaccines are not expected to have the same storage.

Transportation to Appointments

The District’s Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) cover all transportation (free of charge), to and from, all medically necessary covered services and appointments. To request transportation, the Enrollee should call the following number to schedule the service:

AmeriHealth | Call 1-800-315-3485

CareFirst | Call 1-855-824-5693.

Health Services for Children with Special Needs | Call 1-866-991-5433

MedStar | Call 1-866-201-9974  

Vaccine Availability from the Federal Government

The foundational issue around vaccinations in DC is that we do not have enough vaccine to accommodate all essential workers and vulnerable populations that are now eligible to receive the vaccine, or in the case of educators and others, soon will be eligible. In fact, because DC is still home to so many essential workers who do not reside in DC, our challenge is more acute than our surrounding jurisdictions. Until the supply increases, the Health Department will be unable to provide a vaccine to everyone who wants it or needs it. The District is dependent on allotments of the vaccine that the federal government provides each week and as soon as doses are sent to us, appointments are made available.

This week, the Biden Administration committed to increasing the District’s vaccine allocation by 15% for the next three weeks. This commitment will accelerate distribution and availability of vaccines and brings hope to all of us during this uncertain time.  

Public Roundtable This Friday, 1/29

On Friday, January 29th, the Committee on Health will host a public roundtable where residents can share testimony about the vaccine appointment sign-up process. You can learn more about how to testify in person via Zoom or in writing here: https://dccouncil.us/event/health-public-oversight-roundtable-8/.

To receive updates from DC Health regarding appointment availability visit https://vaccinate.dc.gov and sign up for alerts. Please also sign up for our newsletter at www.brookepintodc.com. Together as a community we will continue to fight this pandemic.  


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