- The Washington Times - Monday, January 25, 2021

The District’s top health official said Monday that the city is unable to administer a COVID-19 shot to all eligible people within a priority group at once due to an “abysmal” supply of coronavirus vaccine doses.

The District instead has to break up tiers within a vaccination group because of the limited supply, said the D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt. For example, only teachers who are offering in-person services are able to get vaccinated this week, although all public school staff are supposed to be eligible under Phase 1B tier two.

“We simply do not have enough vaccines,” Dr. Nesbitt said. “So even with our best plans and us rolling out the phases and the tiers two weeks ago, we are still in a position where we cannot implement fully any tier of a specific phase.”

This week, the District is getting 8,775 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and 5,600 of the Moderna vaccine. Of those, 3,900 Pfizer doses are set aside for D.C. Public Schools in-person staff, 1,950 doses for public charter school in-person staff and 1,950 doses for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) force.

Some of the Moderna doses will go to residents of intermediate care facilities, those living in community facilities or group homes, and people experiencing homelessness.

On Monday, Kaiser Permanente was scheduled to start vaccinating MPD staff, said Mayor Muriel Bowser, who publicly received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine Monday.

The District has administered 51,421 doses out of 68,750 distributed, or about 75% of its supply.

In Prince George’s County, teachers and school staff can start getting vaccinated Saturday, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Monday. Starting Feb. 1, the county will launch a vaccine hotline for those with internet issues.

Prince George’s County is still in Phase 1B, which covers adults aged 75 and older, residents in assisted living and other group settings, school staff, child care workers and critical government workers. Health officials don’t anticipate moving to the next phase until mid-March, although pre-registration for Phase 1C opened up Monday.

Phase 1C includes adults 65 to 74 years old, health care and public safety workers not covered in Phase 1A and essential workers such as grocery store staff and public transit employees.

Only residents living in Prince George’s County or individuals who work in the county can get vaccinated within the jurisdiction. Eligible individuals will have to provide an ID card or employment documentation for their vaccination appointments.

As of last week, 20,882 county residents have received their first shot, while 3,141 have been fully vaccinated.

Montgomery County Council President Tom Hucker said Monday the county is expected to receive only 5,500 coronavirus vaccines from the state this week, down from previous weeks.

The county, which is Maryland’s largest jurisdiction and has more than 1 million residents, has received 26,900 doses and administered 23,591, or nearly 88%.

While Maryland moved to Phase 1C this week, Montgomery County is still vaccinating people in Phases 1A and 1B, which covers frontline health care workers, nursing home residents and staff, first responders and adults aged 75 and older.

“It is a reality that different jurisdictions will move at different speeds,” said county Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles. “We do not have adequate vaccine [supply] to achieve the numbers we would like to see, but we are also clear that the state is receiving an inadequate supply as well.”

Mr. Hucker said some rural counties in the state are receiving four times more vaccine supply per person than the four largest counties. He noted that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are receiving between 1.7 to 2 doses per 100,000 people while Kent County is receiving 8 doses per 100,000.

In Virginia, all health districts are in Phase 1B, which includes police, fire and hazmat, corrections, homeless shelters, child care, pre-K and K-12 teachers and staff. That means about 50% of Virginia’s population is eligible for a vaccine, according to Ryan Hudson, spokesman for Arlington County Public Health Division.

Arlington County, which has administered nearly 10,000 shots, is vaccinating health care workers, adults aged 75 and older and initial frontline workers in Phase 1B. Next in line are people 65 to 74 years old, people 16 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions and more frontline essential workers such as those in the food and agriculture industries.

“Virginia is not likely to meet the demand for Phase 1B until March or April,” Mr. Hudson said. “We are hopeful everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to receive one by summer 2021.”

Fairfax County has opened up vaccination registration to adults ages 65 and older, health care workers and people aged 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions. State health data shows the county had administered 60,488 doses as of Monday.

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