Vaccines reach some doctors’ offices in limited supply, mass vaccination sites encouraged

Thousands of vaccines are being put into people’s arms each day in the D.C. region but if you would rather avoid the long lines and wait times and would rather  go straight to your personal doctor’s office for the same shot, there will be some limitations, at least for now.

READ MORE: Experts weigh in on timing for second covid-19 vaccine doses

Some doctor’s practices within Northern Virginia and Montgomery County told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Thursday, people who are waiting to be vaccinated or eventually will be vaccinated, will still have to register through their state or their county and go to a mass vaccination site, or their local pharmacy.

A few reasons according to Dr. Joe McDonald of Your MD Internal Medicine in Bethesda are that, only a handful of private physician practices are getting the supply, which means they don’t want to be overwhelmed with patient vaccine demand right away. 

McDonald said that not every doctor’s office is equipped with how they will be able handle and store the three types of vaccines. 

READ MORE: Maryland residents 16 and older now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

"Across the country most practices aren’t going to be able to have anything at least right now that isn’t just Johnson and Johnson because they just need normal refrigerators and freezers because there aren’t enough for the two mRNA vaccines," McDonald said.

"There is no need to have that kind of refrigeration because it’s expensive, it’s big, so most primary care practices are going to get the Johnson and Johnson."

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Ayesha also checked with the health department in Fairfax County.

A spokesperson said that a small number of private health care providers will soon offer their patients the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are many providers who are still working through the process to become approved.

In Alexandria, according to the city’s health department, there are currently 17 providers who will get the supply. The department said that providers will be using the city’s pre-registration list and will also contact eligible patients directly. 

In Arlington, according to the county’s public information officer, Cara O’Donnell:

"Per VDH guidance, vaccines are available through Arlington County Public Health for residents if they qualify in one of those age/medical condition categories (65+, 16-64 with underlying medical conditions) and to those who qualify as essential employees with Arlington-based employers. So in a nutshell, if you qualify with age/medical condition, you’re eligible where you live. If you qualify as an employee, you’re vaccinated where you work. And people have been able to preregister in either/both categories as applicable. (For instance, if you preregister with Arlington).

We don’t have oversight/affiliation into the pharmacy rollout (that’s part of a federal program), so their criteria may fluctuate. Same is true at this point for any individual medical centers, etc. Those are independent of Public Health efforts, and I don’t have information on if/who may have supply there."

Ayesha also contacted the Maryland Department of Health and according to a statement from Charlie L. Gischlar we were told:

"As of Monday, April 12, any Marylander 16 years of age and older is eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition to the options of mass vaccination sites, local health departments and pharmacies, individuals also can receive vaccinations through their primary care physician. There are currently 90 practices around the state, mostly in underserved communities, participating in the program. The state will continue to strategically roll out vaccines to more registered practices as availability increases. Primary care practices will be able to call patients directly to schedule vaccine appointments."