DC will prioritize want over vulnerability for COVID-19 vaccine distribution

In September, the CDC issued a directive telling jurisdictions to prepare for having a COVID-19 vaccine in place by early November – and both the District and Virginia are already getting ready.

READ MORE: CDC tells states to prepare for COVID-19 vaccine distribution as soon as October or November

But the approach for disseminating the vaccine in either jurisdiction is a little different.

In D.C., health officials are taking a “counter-intuitive” approach. They say the people who are most vulnerable won’t be prioritized.

READ MORE: DC records zero COVID-19 deaths in a day for the first time in over 7 weeks

“Early on we have to balance ho we believe should get it from a risk of exposure in a morbidity and mortality perspective, etcetera. Are the people who want to have it versus the people who want to have it not necessarily being the highest risk groups from an exposure and a morbidity and a mortality perspective. So a lot of our discussions are aimed around ensuring that there is great vaccine confidence,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt of the D.C. Health Department.
In other words, the vaccine will initially go to those who want it – regardless of their vulnerability.

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That’s why the administration says a good portion of the vaccine budget – which isn’t yet set – will be focused on vaccine confidence and education.

In addition, the vaccine will be delivered in a three-phased approach based on availability and distribution points.

Health leaders say discussions are ongoing and a plan isn’t finalized.

In Virginia, by contract, the health department is working on a plan of their own for vaccine distribution.

The plan says funds will be directed toward immunization clinics, messaging, education, and refrigerators.