22 Jan 2021


To Hill and Back: A January Vaccine Update

Listen, I don’t know about you but the past two weeks have left me feeling off-kilter and just… exhausted. I meant to do a Hill Buzz on Wednesday, but instead I tweeted and watched as America did a peaceful transfer of power despite… evvvvverything. And I don’t think I’m okay, honestly. As much as today is a better day, the past four years have been unsettling and stressful, and that’s not something that goes away in one day. Incidentally, if you feel like you might need additional help coping with everything that’s happened, here are some District resources for you.

In the meantime, here is a vaccination update for you

Bailey demonstrates proper mask wearing technique. Thank you for tagging #thehillishome, @beastiesandbestiess!

The main portal for vaccinations in the District is Vaccinate DC. You can register daily at 9 a.m. for appointments (you must register every day all over again– the system does not save your sensitive information). Vaccinate DC also has links to vaccinations at District care facilities such as Medstar, Howard University Hospital and more, as well as information on how to obtain transportation to vaccination sites. Click here to access Vaccinate DC.

FYI: The District will begin vaccinating school teachers (both public and public charter) the week of January 25, in addition to other groups who need it for the preservation of societal functions (you can read the Mayor’s 1/19 release here). There is a Change.org petition asking the District to include day care workers in this vaccination priority slot once again. If you’d like to sign that petition, you can do so here.

ANC Commissioner Steve Holtzman has been sending email vaccine updates. He shared this in particular about Medstar:

Medstar... [is] allowing people to register once and then be contacted when a slot opens up. The registration process is short and quick. So, it’s relatively painless. I’ve tried to access all the hospital sites with varying degrees of success but Medstar is the only one I’m aware of that permits all residents to sign up now. Their questionnaire asks you to answer questions regarding any pre-existing conditions. So, for those to whom this applies, assumedly, this means, regardless of your age, you will have already filled out a complete application for a call back with MEDSTAR when you become eligible for an appointment. If you’re eligible now, it also means that this is the only step (with MEDSTAR) you need to take.

For those currently eligible for the vaccine, it is… important to keep in mind that registering with MEDSTAR does not guarantee that they are going to call you back immediately and set up an appointment. I know of several residents who did register with MEDSTAR and did get quick callbacks and appointment dates. I know of others who, as of yet, have not heard back. But, as we all know by now, there is an issue of limited supply and high demand which differs week to week.

If you’re not following the Washington Post’s Julie Zazumer on Twitter, she is doing an incredible job with her thorough and thoughtful COVID and vaccine coverage. She recently wrote an article about which DC residents will get priority for obtaining the vaccine, and followed it up with a thoughtful Twitter thread with additional information. Julie also has a list of which medical conditions will receive priority vaccination here. (Please don’t take up smoking just so you can get the vaccine earlier.)

Washington City Paper has an interview with DC Health’s lead on vaccinations, Ankooh Shah. It’s a very thorough interview, covering the rationale behind the rollout and how to distribute vaccines equitably.

Unsure about getting the vaccine? This article in New York magazine by an ER physician is a great public service announcement. You will most likely have side effects after receiving your two doses: this is normal. The vaccine CANNOT cause COVID-19.

If you have time on your hands, you might want to spend it reading this interesting report from the Hastings Center on the ethics of proper vaccine rollouts and the challenges it poses.

Finally, you may recall seeing an NBC story about neighbor and friend of the blog Mark Sussman getting a leftover dose while shopping at Safeway because he got on the waitlist. This is still possible but waitlists at local supermarkets are very full, and Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of DC Health, recommends that people stick to the District’s vaccination portal only.

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