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'It's very exciting' | Vaccine eligibility expands Monday to people 16 and older in DC, MD

COVID vaccine eligibility expands to people 16-year-old and older in DC and Maryland on Monday. Virginia is slated to follow suit on April 18.

WASHINGTON — COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expands to people 16-years-old and older in D.C. and Maryland on Monday, and Virginia is slated to expand eligibility to residents 16 and older on April 18. It's creating excitement for residents and community officials alike.

"It's very exciting," Patrick Ashley, Senior Deputy Director for DC Health's Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration, said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser moved up the eligibility expansion just last week from April 19. 

"You know, we've we've already used 89.3% of our vaccine," Ashley said. "And so, you know, there's no reason to delay. We're ready to start vaccinating more of the population.”

Ashley said that an approximate 10% gap in vaccine administration is due to data lags and vaccine waiting to go into its assigned arm.

RELATED: Montgomery County's mass vaccination site is open to all eligible Marylanders

With the eligibility, expansion coincides fewer vaccines. According to data released by the CDC, Johnson & Johnson dose deliveries will decrease by about 80% this week.

D.C. will receive 9,500 fewer doses; Maryland will get nearly 80,000 fewer doses; and Virginia will receive more than 100,000 fewer J&J shots.

In terms of how the reduction will affect future appointments, Ashley said they're still working to determine that.

“It's only been out for a short time," he said. "And so we don't really have a lot of baseline to say, whether or not this is typical allocation.”

When it comes to prioritization of the shots, Ashley said D.C. is still focusing on older adults, residents with medical conditions, and certain essential workers first.

“One of the things that D.C. has been very strong about is promoting equity, which is why we'll continue to utilize our portal," he said.

RELATED: DC nonprofit brings vaccines to patients in hardest-hit wards

Dr. Ray Long, who lives in Arlington, is excited to soon be eligible. 

“To think that a year ago at this time… we're just really getting the lockdowns and just that quickly, numerous vaccines have developed in the logistics of getting them pumped out... it's a phenomenal effort," Long said.

So far, he said he has been waiting patiently, just grateful the rest of his family has been fully vaccinated.

"I'm thrilled that all of them are fine," Long said. "And I think everybody's looking forward to getting back to the way things were but in doing it in a way where we all can continue to fulfill our duty to make sure that the virus stays down and continue to protect ourselves and vulnerable communities as well. So we're gonna get back to normal but in the correct way, in an unsafe way."

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