But the rollout has been bumpy, and many residents have questions about how the region’s local governments are administering vaccines. Here’s what we know right now.
Who can get a vaccine right now in the DMV?
D.C., Maryland and Virginia, like most of the country, are vaccinating health-care workers and people living in nursing homes. As of this week, the District also is offering vaccines to residents 65 and older, and parts of Virginia — including Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun — are vaccinating residents 75 and older. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on Thursday that parts of the state that have been most efficient in vaccinating groups will be allowed to vaccinate residents 65 and older. And Maryland is going to begin vaccinating seniors 75 and older along with teachers and child care providers beginning Monday.
How many doses have been given out so far?
Is there enough vaccine for everyone who is now eligible to get one?
At the moment, no. Every state gets a new allotment of vaccines each week. When the District and parts of Virginia opened vaccine appointments to senior citizens on Jan. 11, they had far fewer doses available than the number of seniors eligible to claim those appointments. Many people tried to get a spot but found they were all taken. The health departments will make more appointments available every week as they get more doses from the federal government.
Which medical conditions will qualify residents for early coronavirus vaccines?
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, Health Director LaQuandra 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 to in February.
Do I have to get vaccinated in my state, or can I go to another state?
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.
How can I make an appointment or register to get a vaccine?
D.C. residents 65 or older and health-care workers who work in D.C. can sign up for a vaccination appointment here.
Right now, Maryland is vaccinating health-care workers and nursing home residents only. Marylanders 75 and older and teachers and child care workers in the state can begin to get vaccinated starting Monday. You can find a vaccination clinic here.
Virginians should check with their local public health department. Right now, health-care workers in Virginia are eligible for the vaccine — and, in some areas, those who are 75 and older as well as some essential front-line workers. Groups 65 and older will begin to be vaccinated in areas of the state that have been most efficient in vaccinating priority groups. Virginians can check whether their local health district has begun vaccinating those groups here.
I’m a senior citizen. How do I get a vaccine?
In the District, senior citizens can sign up for appointments at vaccinate.dc.gov or can call 855-363-0333 to make an appointment by phone. All of this week’s appointments are full, but officials said they will make new appointments available beginning Saturday for residents of Wards 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8 who are 65 and older or health-care workers, and on Monday for those same groups citywide.
Some senior citizens in the District can also make a vaccine appointment through their doctor, including patients at Kaiser Permanente and George Washington University health systems.
In Maryland, residents over 75 can find a vaccination clinic here.
In Virginia, residents in areas that are now offering vaccines to seniors can make an appointment through their local health district.
- In Arlington, visit https://www.arlingtonva.us/covid-19/vaccines/registration/ or call 703-228-7999.
- In Alexandria, visit https://redcap.vdh.virginia.gov/redcap/surveys/?s=FHW4TYF8MP or call 703-746-4988.
- In Fairfax City, Falls Church or Fairfax County, visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/health/novel-coronavirus/vaccine/registration or call 703-324-7404.
- In Loudoun, email your name, age, and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 703-737-8300.
- In Manassas, Manassas Park or Prince William, visit https://wapo.st/3nFdqQH or call 703-872-7759.
- If you live in another part of Virginia, find your local health district here for more information: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/phase-by-health-district/
I’m a health-care worker or front-line essential worker. How do I get a vaccine?
You may be able to get vaccinated at your workplace. If not, follow the same steps described above for senior citizens if you work in the District or Virginia. If you work in Maryland, you should receive information about registering for a vaccine through your workplace.
What if I’m a caretaker for a senior citizen? Can I get vaccinated now, too?
No. Some people who care for senior citizens, such as staff at nursing homes and hospitals, are eligible to get vaccinated now. But caring for a senior to whom you are related does not qualify you to get vaccinated before other people of your own age or health status.
Why are seniors 65 and older being vaccinated in D.C. now, but only seniors 75 and older elsewhere?
The federal government has left many of the decisions about distributing vaccines up to the states, leading to widely varying policies across the country. In the D.C. region, Maryland and Virginia decided to start first with those 75 and older and then expand to those a decade younger, while the District decided to open up appointments to all senior citizens at the same time.
I’m not a health-care worker, senior citizen or essential worker. How can I find out when it’s my turn to get a vaccine?
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.”
Which groups will get vaccinated next?
In the District, health department officials have said they hope to next make vaccines available 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 workers beginning Feb. 1.
Maryland will next offer vaccines to people 75 and older, to residents and staff of “special needs group homes” and to teachers beginning Monday. After that, on Jan. 25, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said the state plans to begin vaccinating people over 65 and essential workers including grocery workers, public transit workers, Postal Service workers, manufacturing workers, police officers, firefighters and more.
Virginia’s plan is similar. Next up are people 75 and older and front-line essential workers in more areas of the state, then people age 65 and older, all adults with high-risk medical conditions and remaining essential workers.
Will I be notified when it’s my turn to get a vaccine?
Not automatically. Maryland residents can sign up for notifications by texting the phrase “MdReady” to the number 898211, and Loudoun County residents can text the number 888777 with the phrase “LCCOVID19” to receive notifications in English or “LCCOVIDESP” to receive notifications in Spanish.
The District and some other jurisdictions in Virginia have not yet set up a notification system.
Where are the vaccines being administered?
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, Md., and Loudoun County, Va., 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.
Are pharmacies giving vaccines to anyone if they have extra doses left at the end of the day?
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 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.
Are coronavirus vaccinations free?
Yes. Under federal law, Americans won’t pay for the vaccine.
Rebecca Tan, Lola Fadulu and Gregory S. Schneider contributed to this report.