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Getting Your COVID-19 Vaccine With Us & Other Important Information
Whitman-Walker Health
Whitman-Walker Health

February 25, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine:

Whitman-Walker Health has a limited number of the COVID-19 vaccine available and is contacting Whitman-Walker patients to schedule vaccination appointments.

We are scheduling vaccination appointments for current patients who are high-risk for COVID-19, are over 60 years old with a chronic condition and are DC residents.If you are eligible, we will contact you when appointments are available.

We know that many people are eager to be vaccinated. As more vaccine doses become available, we will continue to offer vaccines to individuals who are eligible based on the guidance of DC Health.

Please do not call your provider to inquire about your vaccination status. It is critical that we allow our phone lines to remain open to all patients’ care needs. Please refer to our website for information on vaccine distribution We will contact you if we have availability.

If you are eligible to schedule a vaccine appointment through DC Health, or another state health department, we encourage you to do so.

Please note, if you get your first COVID-19 vaccine dose at a location other than Whitman-Walker, you will need to schedule your 2nd dose through that location. Whitman-Walker does not have a waiting list for the COVID-19 vaccine and cannot provide waiting list updates. Please visit your state’s local health department website for more information about eligibility and scheduling for vaccination appointments.

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

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.

DC’s Chronic Conditions for Phase 1C1:

If you have ever been diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions, you qualify to be vaccinated in this phase in DC. You do not need to verify this to register. If you believe that you have one of the conditions, based on your own understanding of your health, you can register. Conditions are as follows:

  • Cancer
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other chronic lung diseases
  • Heart conditions such as congenital heart disease, heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies
  • HIV
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune-weakening medicines
  • Inherited metabolic disorders
  • Intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Liver disease
  • Moderate to severe asthma
  • Neurological conditions, such as dementia
  • Obesity (BMI > 30 kg/m2)
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe genetic disorders
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes mellitus

You can find additional information on the main DC Vaccine Registration page:


Maryland Residents:

If you are a Maryland resident, learn more about the Maryland vaccine distribution process and schedule an appointment for vaccination at, or by calling 855-634-6829, when you are eligible.

Maryland is not vaccinating residents with chronic medical conditions right now.

Virginia Residents:

If you are a Virginia resident, learn more about the Virginia vaccine distribution process and schedule an appointment for vaccination at, or by calling 877-829-4682, when you are eligible.

If you are a Virginia resident, you can find the qualifying conditions at:


COVID-19 FAQs, Phase 1C1:

1. Do I qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine right now (Phase IC, Tier 1)?

If you have ever been diagnosed with one of the qualifying conditions, you qualify. You do not need to verify this to register. If you believe that you have one of the conditions, based on your own understanding of your health, you can register. WWH does not need to confirm or verify this for you.

2. What is my BMI?

DC Health has indicated that a BMI of 30 or higher qualifies. This is the definition of obesity. We do not need to verify this for you. If you believe that your BMI is 30 or over or that you are obese, you may register for a vaccine. You will not need to provide proof or verification.

3. Do I need records or a doctor’s note to register on the DC or Virginia portal?

No, you do not need any records or a note from a doctor. You will be asked if you have one of the conditions and all you need to do is answer “yes.”

4. My occupation is on the list of jobs that qualify me for the vaccine. Can I schedule an appointment at Whitman-Walker?

Given limited vaccine supply and high demand, WWH is currently focused on the vaccination of patients who are DC residents, age 60 and older with a qualifying chronic condition. If you are in an eligible occupation, please note many workplaces have plans in place to vaccinate their eligible workforce. If you are a District of Columbia resident and are eligible for vaccination through your occupation, go to the DC Portal at or call 855-363-0333.

If you are a Maryland resident, go to to request an appointment and see what your local health department is offering. If you are a Virginia resident, go to to pre-register.

5. I have an appointment to get the vaccine at Whitman-Walker. Can I reschedule?

WWH has a limited supply of vaccine. We can cancel your appointment, and we can try to reschedule your appointment now if there is a slot available.

6. I got my first dose of the vaccine somewhere else. Can I get the second dose at Whitman-Walker?

No, the way DC is distributing the vaccine for second doses is based on how many first doses are given at that site. To receive the second dose, you must return to the site that gave you the first dose.


Other Questions We Have Heard from Community: 

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 medical records now 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. 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.

11. What will the COVID-19 vaccine cost?

The vaccine will be free.

12. 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.

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.

24. Does substance use affect the COVID-19 vaccine?

If a person participates in ongoing or irregular substance use (such as use of meth, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, etc.), they should still consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine. There are no contraindications, or reasons to not be vaccinated, due to use of substances.



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