WASHINGTON — The wait is finally over: D.C. Health launched its new COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration website Wednesday morning following several technical issues over the last few weeks that caused frustration for residents trying to sign up for their vaccine.
District residents who are eligible can now pre-register using the city's new system at vaccinate.dc.gov or by calling 855-363-0333. When residents have received an invitation to make an appointment, they will have 48 hours to schedule their vaccine.
With the new pre-registration system, there is no need to scramble to be online or to call at a specific time, which past registrants have likened to a "Hunger Games" type experience. At this time, the mayor's office said the order in which individuals register will not affect the order in which they are selected -- meaning a person who registered today at 8:30 a.m. will be in the same position as a person who registers at 6:30 p.m.
As of noon Wednesday, 48,513 individuals had already pre-registered for a vaccination appointment, the mayor's office said.
District residents pre-registering answer questions regarding their occupation, medical history, COVID-19 history and contact information.
While going through the online form many people took to social media inquiring about one question in particular, if they have a preference for one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
"If I select one of the vaccines does that automatically eliminate me from one of the other buckets?" Philip Waggoner asked.
Bowser addressed the question in a press release and said the preference will be for data collection purposes and will not impact whether or when people are selected for a vaccine appointment. Bowser encouraged people at the time of booking their vaccine to see which vaccine is available at each available appointment.
There were also a lot of inquiries as to when people would be selected to make their vaccine appointment.
Bowser -- along with D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt -- said the system will prioritize three groups for now -- with 40% of the doses going to D.C. residents aged 65 and up, 40% going to 18 to 64 year-olds with certain medical conditions, and the remaining 20% allocated to eligible workers.
Bowser said 50% of the doses allocated to each category will be reserved for priority zip codes. She said people will be selected randomly to receive a dose.
According to city officials, the District is getting 24,760 doses delivered this week. More than 7,000 of those doses will go to hospitals for their patients, around 3,000 for special initiatives and around 15,000 will go toward appointments on D.C.'s vaccination website.
After this first week, Bowser said invitations will be sent out Thursday, Sunday, and Tuesday (if appointments need to be filled) by 10 a.m.
City officials are also reminding residents who pre-register to make sure to check their email spam folder for the invites, as each invitation can be used only once.
“We’re doing the best we can to make the technology match the very high demand,” Bowser said. “And what we’re also doing is hopefully ensuring that they won’t have to encounter frustration week after week.”