D.C. officials named GW Hospital an official distribution site for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a press conference Thursday.
LaQuandra Nesbitt, the director of the D.C. Department of Health, said once the Pfizer vaccine is approved for emergency use authorization, the District will receive an initial allotment of 6,825 vaccines, which will be distributed at six sites throughout the city. She said the District plans to execute a phased distribution of the vaccine, the first including emergency health care workers.
The six hospitals designated as distribution sites will partner with health care providers and institutions like D.C. Fire & Emergency Medical Services and United Medical Center to distribute the vaccines to the initial group of recipients, Nesbitt said.
“This week, the team at D.C. Health has conducted reviews of those hospitals’ plans as well as on-site inspections to ensure they are ready to receive their supplies,” she said.
She said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must issue recommendations for vaccine distribution after the vaccine is approved for emergency use but before the vaccine can be distributed. Nesbitt said District officials have started gathering supplies in anticipation of its approval, including more than 184,000 needles and syringes, 1 million alcohol prep pads, 1 million Band-Aids and other products needed for proper storage of the vaccine.
She said Phase 1a of the vaccine distribution will include emergency health care workers – about 70,000 people – and Phase 1b will include 300,000 essential workers and at-risk residents. Phase 2 includes groups like child care workers, people working at homeless shelters and other “older adults,” and Phase 3 includes young adults and children.
“Out of our initial allotment of 6,825 vaccines, the initial distribution of the vaccine will be tied to settings, not necessarily job roles, and we will begin with those health care workers who work in emergency settings,” she said.
She said the D.C. health department and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer are working to build an online registration system for health care workers who are working outside of traditional health care settings to register to receive the vaccine.
Lia DeGroot contributed reporting.