PLEASE NOTE: We are experiencing extremely high call volumes especially from 11AM-2PM. Due to high call volume, callers may experience longer than normal wait times. We apologize for any inconvenience. Read about our services during the COVID-19 crisis at
Powered by Google TranslateTranslate
Getting Your Vaccine with Us & COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs
Whitman-Walker Health
Whitman-Walker Health

January 25, 2021

Learn facts about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines, and get more information on general prevention for the coronavirus from DC Health at and from the CDC at


COVID-19 Vaccine:

Whitman-Walker Health is a partner in DC’s COVID-19 vaccination effort. At this time, we do not have the vaccine in stock. We will reach out to our patients with more information about how to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination appointment when the vaccine is available at Whitman-Walker.

Have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? We encourage our patients and the community, including those living with HIV, to learn more about the vaccine at People living with HIV were included in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine clinical trials when researching the effectiveness of the vaccines. Can't find an answer to your question? Email

  • If you are a DC resident, learn more about the DC vaccine distribution process and schedule an appointment for vaccination at when you are eligible.
  • If you are a Maryland resident, learn more about the Maryland vaccine distribution process and schedule an appointment for vaccination at when you are eligible.
  • If you are a Virginia resident, learn more about the Virginia vaccine distribution process and schedule an appointment for vaccination at when you are eligible.

Talk to Your Provider:

If you are currently getting chemotherapy for cancer, are a transplant patient, are currently pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a history of severe allergies, we encourage you to speak to your provider before getting vaccinated.

After You Get Your Vaccine, Use V-Safe!

After you get your vaccine, be sure to sign up for V-Safe to receive post-vaccination check-ins and surveys so you can report any symptoms or side effects. Learn more about V-Safe, and how to access it here.  

COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions: 

1. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

There is strong evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective. The Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were approved by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use in the United States because the data have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective.

There were approximately 40,000 patients enrolled in the Pfizer vaccine study and approximately 30,000 patients enrolled in the Moderna vaccine. The FDA will be reviewing other COVID-19 vaccines for approval in the next few weeks, and all vaccines will go through the same rigorous FDA approval process. The FDA approval process is considered to be the most rigorous in the world.

2. Who was included in the clinical trials?

People of all races, ethnicities, and genders were included in the studies.

People aged 16 and older were included in the Pfizer vaccine study. People aged 18 and over were included in the Moderna study.

3. I am Black. Will the vaccine be harmful to me?

The data have shown the vaccine is safe and effective for all races and ethnicities, including Black and African American people. Black and African American people took part in the COVID-19 vaccine trials. The results indicate that the vaccine causes only mild side effects in the majority of participants, regardless of race. The results also indicate that the vaccine is equally effective in all participants, regardless of race.

4. I am a person of color. How can I trust that the vaccine is safe?

The data have shown the vaccine is safe and effective for all races and ethnicities. These COVID-19 vaccine trials included a group of more than 70,000 participants, from different backgrounds and ethnicities, including people who identify as Black and African American. We understand that generations of experimentation on Black people and persons of color globally, has left many people untrusting of the medical field and wary of taking a vaccine. Science and ethics have continued to evolve together. Today, research is conducted with community advisory boards to ensure a quality, thoughtful and ethical study.

5. Is an emergency use authorization the same as a standard authorization?

No, it is not the same. But it is still a very high standard. There is strong evidence that the vaccine is both safe and effective.

6. How will you decide who will be first to be vaccinated?

Right now, the city is allocating doses of the vaccine because there are limited supplies. Like all other healthcare organizations in DC, Whitman-Walker has partnered with the city to receive vaccine shipments and has agreed to distribute the vaccine based on city guidelines. This means that across the city, and at Whitman-Walker, health care workers and then DC residents based on age, and with specific chronic health conditions, will be vaccinated first.

7. Were the studies rushed in order to get the vaccines distributed quickly? How did this vaccine get approved so quickly compared to other vaccines?

Efforts to develop the COVID-19 vaccines have not skipped steps. Neither scientific standards nor safety standards were lessened, or decreased, in any way.

One of the reasons that the trials were completed quickly is because of the high rates of COVID-19 infection in the US and around the world. This means that study participants were quickly and frequently exposed to people who were infected over the course of their everyday lives. This is not usually the situation when vaccines for other illnesses are tested—so it takes more time for those studies to determine effectiveness.

What is still being studied is how long the immunity will last. This is something that would normally be determined through a standard authorization process where the patients were followed over an extended period of time. That part of the trial is still going on. The emergency authorization process was created in order to quickly distribute vaccines once their safety and effectiveness have been established. It is not uncommon for vaccines to require booster doses in order to shore up, or support, the immune response. As they follow the study patients over a longer period, they may discover that patients need booster doses or they may not.

8. How will I know when it is “my turn” to be vaccinated?

We will be reaching out to our patients to schedule vaccination as soon as they qualify for vaccination and we have doses in stock at Whitman-Walker Health. We are reviewing our medical records now in order to be ready. Patients will hear from us at the earliest possible date. We may reach out via email, phone, text message, etc.

9. Can patients with HIV get the vaccine?

Yes. Patients with HIV have been approved to receive the vaccine.

10. Will patients with HIV have priority?

Not necessarily. HIV will be considered as part of the overall health status of a patient, but it doesn’t, by itself, necessarily qualify as a priority condition for the vaccine. Patients who are ill with two or more certain chronic conditions are considered to be high priority. Some of these patients will have HIV and some will not.

11. I live in Maryland or Virginia. Will you be able to vaccinate me?

The federal government is only shipping enough vaccine to Whitman-Walker for DC residents, so Maryland and Virginia residents should get the vaccine in their state. 

12. When will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

We do not know exactly when Whitman-Walker will be able to start giving the vaccine to the community. We hope to be able to start vaccinating patients in February or March, but we must wait to see how quickly the city is able to receive and distribute the vaccine to the health center.

13. What will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The vaccine will be free.

14. I’ve had COVID-19 before. Will I still be able to get vaccinated?

Yes. The CDC is recommending that people with prior COVID-19 infection do get vaccinated. Health officials say that the vaccine may provide a more “robust” immune response than getting the illness itself. Also, immunity to COVID-19 can wane. So, even if someone did test positive for COVID-19 in the past, a vaccine is still important. But if you are actively sick, you should wait to get the vaccine.

15. How long does the COVID-19 vaccine last once administered?

We won’t know how long vaccine immunity lasts until we have more data. This is being studied now. Once we learn how long the immunity lasts, we will make plans to administer additional doses to our patients.

16. Can my minor child get the vaccine?

Currently the Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer vaccine is for 16 years and older. The Moderna vaccine is for ages 18 and older.

17. Are there any side effects to the COVID-19 vaccine?

While there is no evidence of long-term side effects, notable short-term side effects include fatigue, headache and possible low-grade fever. Most people say these symptoms last about a day. These symptoms are a sign that your body is building an immune response—in other words, that the vaccine is working.

18. Does the vaccine work/is it effective?

Primary efficacy analysis of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines showed them to be 95 and 94 percent effective, respectively. That is good efficacy. (For reference, the seasonal flu vaccine has an efficacy rate of 50 percent among some populations.) But that doesn’t mean you should throw away your masks or plan a large gathering just yet.

19. Do I still have to wear a mask and follow the current COVID-19 preventative guidelines if I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends that during the pandemic people wear a mask and practice physical distancing when in contact with others, including others from your household, when in healthcare settings, and when receiving any vaccine, including a COVID-19 vaccine. This is because it is known from the studies that people who get vaccinated do not get sick. What is still not known is if people who get vaccinated can pass the virus to others.

20. There are several vaccines on the market. Are they all equally effective? Can I choose which one I want?

They are all effective, though some may be considered to be slightly more effective than others. We don’t believe the differences in effectiveness is something to worry about. What is most important is decreasing your chances of getting sick with COVID-19 and all the vaccines that we will offer at Whitman-Walker will do this.

Because demand for the vaccine is so high and our stock will change depending on what we receive from the city, we cannot accommodate requests from patients on their preferred vaccine manufacturer.

21. How does the vaccine work?

All of the vaccine platforms work essentially the same way, but for purposes of this conversation we will talk specifically about the first two out of the gate: the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Both of those vaccines make use of something called mRNA technology. It works by injecting people with a tiny fat bubble, or lipid, containing a part of the “blueprint” material for the virus.

That blueprint gets into the muscle and eventually white blood cells. Then, the cells make a harmless piece of “spike protein,” which is the part on the outer surface of the COVID-19 virus that binds to and infects your cells.

Your body then recognizes that the protein doesn’t belong there and builds an immune response, which is why you may feel some tenderness, headache or experience a low-grade fever after getting the vaccine.

The other vaccines in development stages work essentially the same way, though they’ll use different methods than the mRNA technology to show your body that harmless spike protein and prompt it to build an immune response to COVID-19.

22. I am due for other vaccines as well. Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine too?

No. At this time, CDC does not recommend the Pfizer vaccine be administered at the same time as other vaccines. Ideally, there will be at least 14 days either before or after administration of other vaccines. Consider getting other vaccines at different times than when getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

23. Does the vaccine work as post-exposure prophylaxis?

The CDC does not recommend using the COVID-19 vaccine as post-exposure prophylaxis. Individuals with an exposure to COVID-19 should wait until their quarantine period has ended before being vaccinated.

All our Services are available in multiple languages upon request.

Our bilingual staff and volunteers will help get the language services you need!


You might also be interested in


Getting Your Vaccine with Us & COVID-19 Vaccine...

January 25, 2021


How has COVID-19 Affected Immigration Cases?

July 17, 2020


Updates at Whitman-Walker During the COVID-19 P...

January 25, 2021


Patient Portal Telehealth

June 05, 2020


​ Community Care: A Mental Health Check-In

March 17, 2020


How to Navigate Your Telehealth Appointment

October 02, 2020


What to Expect During an In-Person Cough Evalua...

March 18, 2020


How to Manage Respiratory Infections, Coughs an...

March 02, 2020


What to Know About Coronavirus

August 20, 2020


How to Keep Your Community Healthy from the Flu...

April 27, 2020


Enrolling in Insurance Coverage for 2020? We ca...

December 06, 2019


We're Moving into Liz | ¡Nos vamos a mudar... a...

October 14, 2019


Important Notice for Medicare Patients

October 14, 2019


Reflecting on the 11th Annual National Gay Men'...

September 27, 2019


Healing After Trauma with Pride and Community

June 12, 2019


An Open House Introduction to Gender Affirming ...

April 22, 2019


‘X’ Gender Markers Affirm Lives and Create Acce...

April 18, 2019


The Trump Administration’s Initiative to End th...

March 06, 2019


Our Open Letter to the Community

January 07, 2019


Our 40th Year in Review

October 14, 2018


Valerie Villalta, “To live exactly who you want...

October 07, 2018


More than 40 Years Later, What We’ve Learned & ...

September 30, 2018


Our Journeys to Whitman-Walker

September 23, 2018


“We Can See the Finish Line” ﹘ A Photo History ...

September 16, 2018


Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center, A Home of Dign...

September 09, 2018


Amelie Zurn, Embracing Feminist Health Practice...

September 02, 2018


“Together, Let’s Educate Ourselves to Live” - T...

August 26, 2018


Ellen Kahn, Finding Purpose & Community During ...

August 19, 2018


Antonio Hardy, Being a Resource to My Peers

August 12, 2018


Lesbian Services Program, Meeting the Health Ne...

August 05, 2018


Michael Shilby, Feeling Calm, Centered & Seen a...

July 29, 2018


1407 S Street, A Pillar of Hope

July 22, 2018


The Bill Austin Day Treatment Center

July 15, 2018


Whitman-Walker Health, We See You

July 08, 2018


Tony Burns, Learning and Living with HIV in Was...

July 01, 2018


Keeping My Community In Mind

June 29, 2018


New Transgender Women's Health Study Now Enrolling

June 26, 2018


Ahmed, Gaining Strength & Living Each Day Like ...

June 24, 2018


The Power of Mentorship and Thriving with HIV

June 17, 2018


Masterpiece Cake – What Did the Supreme Court D...

June 12, 2018


Joe Izzo, Re-Defining Safer Sex in the Age of H...

June 10, 2018


Derrick "Strawberry" Cox, Spreading Joy & Love ...

June 03, 2018


Lili Leonard, The Strength of Being a Lifelong ...

May 27, 2018


D. Magrini, A Washingtonian & What She Wishes S...

May 20, 2018


Winifred Quinn, Advocating for LGBTQ Seniors th...

May 13, 2018


Don Blanchon, Recognizing 12 Years of Servant L...

May 05, 2018


Adisa Bakare, A Helpful & Passionate “Leader of...

April 29, 2018


Randy Pumphrey, Amplifying the Memories of Long...

April 22, 2018


Bianca Rey, Advocating for Myself and My Commun...

April 15, 2018


Barbara Lewis, Empowering Women through Healthcare

April 08, 2018


Max Robinson, A Pioneer of Black Journalism

April 01, 2018


Gerard Tyler, Disco & Getting Friends Tested

March 25, 2018


Carl Corbin, Whitman-Walker Makes Me Feel Like ...

March 18, 2018


Joanne Sincero, Serving Empathy

March 11, 2018


Chris Straley, Understanding Us as People

March 04, 2018


Richshaad Ryan, Marking Each Birthday with an H...

February 25, 2018


Grayson & Christine, I See the Real You

February 17, 2018


Kermit Turner, Music Notes and the Many Faces o...

February 11, 2018


Madison Chambers, Growing & Educating with Real...

February 03, 2018


Jim Graham, An Influential Leader

January 27, 2018


Meet Dr. Mary Edwards “Walker”

January 20, 2018


Meet Walt Whitman

January 13, 2018


DC Is First in the Nation to Use ‘X’ Gender Mar...

July 19, 2017


Hoop’N for Care, Hoop’ N 4 HIV

July 10, 2017


Moving the Needle on Reproductive Justice and F...

April 17, 2017


A Major Step Forward for LGBTQ Civil Rights

April 13, 2017


Community Connection Series

March 24, 2017


Summit on Black Lives: Black America’s Response...

February 08, 2017

Let's Keep in Touch

Get the latest Whitman-Walker Health community news delivered to your inbox!