Learn facts about the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccines, and get more information on general prevention for the coronavirus from DC Health at coronavirus.dc.gov and from the CDC at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
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
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 email@example.com.
- If you are a DC resident, learn more about the DC vaccine distribution process and schedule an appointment for vaccination at vaccinate.DC.gov 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 COVIDlink.maryland.gov 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 vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine 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
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
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
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
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
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.