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The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan in Washington, D.C.

En español |   Who can get vaccinated now?

  • District residents age 65 and older, grocery store workers and other essential frontline workers (Phase 1B Tier 1

  • Residents and staff of long-term care facilities, health care personnel and veterinarians, fire and emergency medical staff (Phase 1A).

Where can I get vaccinated?

Howard University Hospital Staff Members Receive Covid-19 Vaccination Shots In Nation's Capital
A health care worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Howard University.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

  • Hospitals, health centers and clinics: Appointments for eligible District residents can be made on the COVID-19 vaccine website (a guide to scheduling an appointment is also available). For adults age 65 and up and health care workers who live in priority zip codes, vaccination appointment sign-ups open on Thursdays at 6 pm (check back for opening time changes weekly). For the same people in other zip codes, sign-ups open on Fridays on 6 pm. On Mondays, appointments open for licensed child care providers and independent and charter schools. You can sign up to receive email or text alerts when vaccination appointments become available. You can also contact the coronavirus call center at 855-363-0333 or 311. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is offering the vaccine to eligible veterans already under the care of the VA.
  • For District residents age 16 to 17 with a qualifying medical condition, you can pre-register online for a vaccination at Children’s National Hospital.
  • Retail pharmacies: Giant Food and Safeway pharmacies are also offering COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Click the links above to check for availability.

  • Vaccine supplies are limited everywhere and available only to those now eligible under each state’s phased plan. Most vaccine sites require you to schedule an appointment online or by phone. Appointments can be very hard to get, as available time slots are booked quickly, and you may experience long wait times on the phone. If a time slot is not available, you may be put on the site’s waiting list. Some people are signing up at multiple sites to increase chances of getting an appointment. Once you have a confirmed appointment, public health officials ask that you don’t schedule or confirm another with any other provider so that vaccine appointments stay open for others.

AARP recommends that you ask your doctor about the safety, effectiveness, benefits and risks of the coronavirus vaccine. Older adults, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

What should I bring to my vaccination appointment?

Some vaccination sites ask for proof of identity or eligibility. Officials recommend that you bring a driver’s license or other state-issued ID that shows your name, age and state residency, and your health insurance card, if you have one. You will not be charged, but the vaccine provider may bill your insurer a fee for administering the vaccine. If you are eligible due to an underlying medical condition or comorbidity, you may need a note from your doctor or some other form of proof. If you are eligible on the basis of your work, bring proof of employment such as a pay stub, badge or letter from your employer. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says to wear a mask at your appointment.

Who will be eligible to get vaccinated next? 

District residents age 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions will be eligible to get vaccinated on March 1, but can book their appointments on the District COVID-19 website now. Phase 2 covers all residents age 16 years and older not included in the District's previous phases.

AARP is fighting for older Americans to be prioritized in getting COVID-19 vaccines because the science has shown that older people are at higher risk of death from the coronavirus. 

How will nursing home residents and others in long-term care facilities get vaccinated?    

Most residents and staff of long-term care facilities are being vaccinated through a federal program that has contracted with CVS and Walgreens to administer the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines at three free on-site clinics at the facilities. Washington, D.C. is taking part in the program. 

Almost all nursing homes, which were given first priority, have completed their first and second clinics, and most have also finished their final clinics, according to data from CVS and Walgreens. Many assisted living and other long-term care facilities are also taking part in the program. Almost all of them have completed their first clinics, and most have completed their second. All the vaccination clinics are slated to be complete by late March. 

I’ve heard that some vaccines require a second shot.   

The COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna require two doses. If you get one of these, you’ll need a follow-up dose to be effectively immunized. The recommended second-shot date is three weeks after a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and four weeks for Moderna’s, but the CDC says an interval of up to six weeks is acceptable. You should get a card from your provider saying when and where to return for the second dose. The state says it will send reminders via text, emails and phone calls.   

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine requires just one shot.  

It’s not yet known how long immunity from a coronavirus vaccine lasts and whether it needs to be administered on a regular basis like a flu shot. 

Do I have to pay for the vaccination? 

You should not have any out-of-pocket cost for getting the vaccine. AARP fought to make sure the federal government is covering the cost of the vaccine itself. Providers can recoup a fee for administering the shot, but not from consumers. They would be reimbursed by the patient’s insurance company or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries and the uninsured, for example).  

According to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, no District recipient will be charged a copay, regardless of whether he or she has health insurance.  There are already reports of scammers purporting to offer COVID-19 vaccines and treatments and trying to charge for them. AARP's Fraud Watch Network is tracking the latest scams.  

Should I still wear a mask after getting vaccinated?   

Yes. Experts still need to learn more about the protection vaccination provides under “real-world conditions,” the CDC says. It could take your body a few weeks to build up immunity after the second dose. The vaccine is just one tool that can help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC says it could take months for the population to build up immunity and continues to recommend preventive measures such as face masks and social distancing.  

In addition, it’s not yet clear how effective the vaccines are against new, more contagious strains of the coronavirus initially identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil and elsewhere, although they would still provide some protection.     

This guide was updated on Mar. 3 with more information about vaccinations taking place at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

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AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins

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