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VERIFY: Here's when DC, Maryland and Virginia will roll out the first COVID-19 vaccine doses

Who will get the initial doses of the vaccine? How many are expected to hit the DMV? When are they arriving?

WASHINGTON — With Pfizer and Moderna gearing up for Emergency Use Authorizations from the Food & Drug Administration, the VERIFY team knows there are a lot of questions about when we’ll see a rollout in the region.

So we’re Verifying the who, when and how many when it comes to vaccine distribution in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Our sources are information from local health departments and leaders in all three jurisdictions, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services, who is spearheading Operation Warp Speed with the Department of Defense.

How many doses can we expect?

Those numbers are set by Operation Warp Speed. A spokesperson at the Department of Health and Human Services explained how it works:

"The government hasn’t published numbers yet, but each state has received a planning number for the first week of shipment of the Pfizer vaccine and the first week of shipment of the Moderna vaccine, whenever the FDA grants a EUA. The amount each of the 64 jurisdictions is receiving is allocated per capita on total 18+ population. This is based on input from governors and the fact that spread is nationwide."

Our Verify researchers went to each jurisdiction: 

Virginia expects to get about 480,000 initial doses, Maryland anticipates roughly 155,000 doses, and D.C. awaits about 7,000 doses, according to a letter from the D.C. Hospital Association sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and DOD acting Secretary Christopher Miller.

D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bowser sent a letter to Operation Warp Speed saying that since many of D.C.’s healthcare workers live outside the District, the dosing wouldn’t cover even 10 percent of the 80,000 healthcare workers.

She’s asking for D.C. to get doses based on where people work, not where they live.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services provided this statement to the Verify team, in response to Mayor Bowser's letter:

"Operation Warp Speed has responded to the Mayor’s letter and is committed to fair and equitable allocation of vaccines and therapeutics," they said.

"Jurisdictions will be allocated doses per capita based on the population of the jurisdiction’s residents over the age of 18," they continued. "Residents from outside the District of Columbia who come into the District for work will be reflected in the allocations of the states in which they reside. While initial doses will be limited, our goal is to ensure every American has easy access to vaccines once available. Additional allocations will be provided weekly to jurisdictions and Federal Agencies."

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  • A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Virginia Department of Health: "Virginia's COVID-19 Vaccination Priorities Announced"
  • Governor Larry Hogan and Dr. Jinlene Chan, Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health- press conference on December 8, 2020
  • Letter sent from Mayor Muriel Bowser to Operation Warp Speed leaders Dr. Moncef Slaoui and General Gustave Perna 
  • Letter sent from D.C. Hospital Association President & CEO Jacqueline Bowens to Alex Azar and Christopher Miller

Who will get those initial doses?

Everyone is following the CDC advisory committee's recommendations.

Health care works and long-term care facility residents are on tap in Virginia and Maryland. 

D.C. is prioritizing health care workers and first responders, according to their COVID-19 Vaccination Plan.

Here's a look at the proposed allocation for consideration:

Credit: D.C. Department of Health/ Executive Office of the Mayor
Screenshot of a graphic in D.C.'s COVID-19 Vaccination Plan showing a proposed allocation for vaccine distribution.


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When can we expect those initial doses in D.C., Maryland and Virginia?

Maryland and Virginia are looking at mid-December for their rollout.

Dr. Jinlene Chan from Maryland’s Health Department said on December 8, if approved, the Pfizer shipment of more than 50,000 doses could come as early as the week of December 14, Moderna’s 104,000 could come the week of December 22.

A specific timeline for the DC vaccine rollout has yet to be announced, however you can read more information about the phased COVID-19 vaccine plan here, which was announced December 10.


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