Several newly eligible residents encountered problems Monday with the vaccination process.
A husband and wife made appointments at a Northwest D.C. clinic, only to arrive and be told it had no doses to distribute. Another man in Southeast was told there were no appointments available within 100 miles of his home. Another was turned away from his pharmacy after making an online appointment Sunday night. Still more could not get through to their local health departments.
“How about people who don't have computers?” said Natalie Marra, 93, who called the D.C. health department early Monday and heard an automated message telling her she was 179th in line. She hung up and called her D.C. Council member’s office.
“This has to be more organized,” said Marra, who has weathered the pandemic by limiting her time outside in her Adams Morgan neighborhood.
Amid the expanded availability Monday, delays continued to affect the vaccine rollout across several jurisdictions.
The District has administered 26,672 vaccine doses through its first round of inoculations, which included health-care workers and front-line emergency workers. An additional 18,753 doses set aside for that group have yet to be administered.
The city expects to receive about 8,300 vaccine doses this week for the next round of inoculations, which will be conducted under three tiers.
The first tier includes residents 65 and older, people and staff in congregate settings such as group homes and homeless shelters, correctional officers and non-health-care personnel supporting operations of coronavirus vaccination clinics.
Next will come inmates inside correctional facilities and detention centers, law enforcement and other public safety officers, staff working in public schools, child-care workers and grocery store employees.
The third tier will include courthouse employees and other residents providing legal services, those who work in health, human services and social services programs, public transit workers, manufacturing workers, those who handle food packaging and distribution, and U.S. Postal Service employees.
D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said officials expect that demand for vaccines will continue to grow after some initial concerns about side effects have diminished.
“We believe uptake is going to be high,” she said.
The rollout of the additional vaccines came as the region’s seven-day average for new coronavirus cases continued to escalate, reaching a high Monday of 8,545.
The greater Washington region added 7,744 new infections Monday and 43 virus-related fatalities. Virginia added 4,530 infections and 10 deaths, Maryland added 3,012 cases and 29 deaths, and the District added 202 infections and four deaths.
In Virginia, public health districts in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties, as well as the city of Alexandria and the southwest region west of Roanoke, also began taking appointments Monday for their second phase of vaccine distributions.
As of Monday, the state had administered 189,283 vaccine doses to health-care workers and residents in long-term care facilities covered under the first round, according to the Virginia health department.
The next round of inoculations in the state will be reserved for people 75 and older; people living in correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps; and a large and varied category of front-line essential workers who cannot work remotely.
Local health departments in Virginia will contact groups of essential workers in the following order: police, fire and hazardous materials response teams; corrections and homeless shelter workers; K-12 teachers and school and child-care staff; food and agriculture workers, including veterinarians; manufacturing workers; grocery store staffers; public transit workers; mail carriers, including the Postal Service and private companies; and those needed to maintain continuity of government.
Health officials in the state were also inundated with phone calls Monday.
“If you are calling to make an appointment, please note that our call center is experiencing high volume,” an alert posted to the Fairfax County Health Department website said, steering residents to an online portal.
David Goodfriend, director of the Loudoun County Health Department, urged residents to be patient as his department works through the logistics of the vaccinations.
In Maryland, the state’s largest public employee union criticized Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) vaccine rollout, complaining that little information has been given to front-line employees who work in congregant settings or in social services.
On Monday, the state was still working through its first round of inoculations, administering 146,172 doses to health-care workers and nursing home residents.
“The complete lack of planning and communication, it’s scary,” said Patrick Moran, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3, during a virtual news conference.
Moran said more than 10 percent of the 30,000 employees in the union have been infected with the virus since March. Six of its members have died.
Workers in prisons and state hospitals are “only now starting to get the vaccines that they need,” while other public employees have received no information about when the vaccine will be available to them, Moran said.
Michael Ricci, a spokesman for Hogan, said those workers will be vaccinated during the state’s second phase, which state health officials expect will get underway in late January.
Officials in Montgomery County said they are “pushing every button” to administer doses more quickly. But, officials said, they have limited control over the implementation of the vaccination programs at hospitals and nursing homes.
“There’s so much out of our control,” the county council’s vice president, Gabe Albornoz (D-At large), said during a Monday news conference.
Montgomery officials said the county expected to end Monday with about 83 percent of its nearly 13,000 doses administered to residents. Still, that’s not enough to push the county into the next round of inoculations, officials said.
Of the 6,700 doses the county expects to receive this week, nearly half will go to first responders and public safety personnel, said James Bridgers, the county’s deputy health officer.
In the District, officials said they are monitoring the health effects of last week’s pro-Trump rally and ensuing attempted insurrection, in which thousands of the president’s supporters gathered downtown without wearing masks before some stormed the Capitol.
On Sunday, Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, notified members of the House and Senate they might have been exposed to someone with a coronavirus infection while hiding from rioters. He encouraged them to get tested.
On Monday, New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D), who was huddled in a room with some lawmakers who refused to wear masks, announced she had tested positive.
Nesbitt said she has been in “constant communication” with Monahan to gauge the possibility that others in the city also were exposed.
The higher risk of infection pushed many residents to apply wherever they could. While many were able to get their inoculations, others were met with confusion.
Michael Briggs, 69, said he spent most of Monday trying to get an appointment, with no success. The website for the pharmacy inside his neighborhood Safeway read “no records to display” when he tried to apply.
He sought help from the D.C. health department, leaving a voice mail. Five hours later, a helpful-sounding city representative called back, taking down his information. Then she told him there were no sites available for appointments within 100 miles of his Southeast home.
He went to the Safeway pharmacy, where he learned there were no more appointments available Monday because 1,000 people had been assigned to the same time slot.
“I’m sure they’re trying to do a good job,” Briggs said. “They’re just not yet.”
But, he said, he would try again Tuesday.
“I want to get the shot,” he said.
Rebecca Tan contributed to this report.