Maryland

FAQ: What to Know About COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution in the DC Area

Here’s info on when you could get the vaccine and how many people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been vaccinated so far 

NBC Universal, Inc.

Vaccine What to Know

  • Across the region, health care workers have been designated as the top priority for vaccine distribution.
  • First responders, nursing home residents and staff, essential workers and high-risk adults also are among those first in line to receive the vaccine.
  • Vaccines are unlikely to be available to the general public until well into 2021.

Two COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have received emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, allowing front-line health care workers to be inoculated against the virus.

As of Thursday, more than 9.3 million vaccine doses have been administered across the U.S., out of a total 27.6 million doses distributed.

As of Friday, 436,993 people in our region have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and more than 47,000 people have been fully vaccinated.

Here's what will happen next in the D.C. area as vaccine distribution continues.

Who will get the vaccine first?

According to vaccine distribution proposals issued by D.C., Maryland and Virginia, vaccine distribution will be rolled out in a series of phases.

When Could I Get the Vaccine?

Answer the questions to calculate your risk profile and see where you fall in your county's and state's vaccine lineup. This estimate is based on a combination of vaccine rollout recommendations from the CDC and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

For a more detailed breakdown of who is included in each priority group, see this methodology.
Source: the Vaccine Allocation Planner for COVID-19 by Ariadne Labs and the Surgo Foundation
Interactive by Amy O’Kruk/NBC

D.C. and Maryland each have at least four phases (1A, 1B, 2, and 3) with various groups of recipients included in each phase. Virginia has five phases: 1A, 1B, 1C, 2, and 3.

Washington, D.C. - Phase 1B

D.C. has moved into phase 1B of vaccine distribution.

DC Health announced Friday evening that at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, 4,309 vaccination appointments will be available to residents of Wards 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8 who are age 65 and older or work in a health care setting. Appointments can be made through the vaccinate.dc.gov portal or by calling D.C.’s coronavirus call center at 1-855-363-0333.

Saturday's appointments are only available to residents in the wards that had the fewest number of residents make appointments Monday, Jan. 11

An additional 1,436 appointments will be available to any D.C. resident 65 and older or who works in health care in D.C. at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18.

D.C. residents age 65 and older can schedule to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the mayor announced Monday. 

In D.C., phase 1B includes an estimated 310,000 residents comprising high-risk adults, seniors age 65 and older, teachers, law enforcement, essential workers, grocery store workers, child care workers, people experiencing homelessness, nursing home residents and correctional facility residents and staff, according to the District's official proposal.

Virginia - Phase 1B

Virginia is currently giving vaccines to people in Phase 1a and Phase 1b. 

Several Virginia health districts moved into Phase 1B as of Monday, officials say. Those in Group 1B, which includes people over the age of 65, teachers, police and firefighters as well as postal, transit and grocery workers, may begin getting vaccinated for COVID-19 now.

Anyone who has a chronic health condition is also eligible. 

Maryland - Phase 1B Starts Monday

Maryland is moving into Phase 1B of vaccinations starting Monday.

Marylanders age 75 and older, all residents at long-term care facilities, and teachers and education staff will be eligible, Gov. Larry Hogan announced at a press conference Thursday.

Anyone of any age living in assisted-living or independent-living facilities, behavioral health group homes, or homes centered on developmental disabilities will be eligible.

Phase 1B also includes all K-12 teachers, education staff and childcare providers, the governor said.

The governor also announced that the state would be accelerating its vaccination rollout – enabling Phase 1C to begin on Monday, Jan. 25. 

Phase 1C will be expanded to all adults between the ages of 65 and 74, anywhere in the state.


What About the Other Phases?

Phase 1A included an estimated 85,100 individuals in D.C., 465,580 in Maryland and 440,500 in Virginia – mostly first responders, health care workers and nursing home staff and residents.

See the graphic below for a more detailed breakdown of who was included in phase 1A in our region.

Even though our region is moving into Phase 1B, people who fall into the Phase 1A category can continue to schedule vaccination appointments.

Phase 2 will include other groups, such as adults with moderate risk, other workers in critical industries, young adults and children. Phase 3 is likely to include the general public, such as adults with little to no extra health risk who do not work in critical industries.

How long will it take for everyone to get vaccinated?

As of Thursday, more than 9.3 million vaccine doses have been administered across the U.S., out of a total 27.6 million doses distributed.

As the first vaccines were prepared to ship nationwide, DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt warned that the rollout could begin slowly due to a learning curve.

“Getting the vaccine physically here is not the hardest part of this work. Clinically training people, being able to answer [patients' and health providers'] questions … is the harder part of the work," Nesbitt said.

Gov. Ralph Northam said that Virginia is speeding up the pace of vaccinations every day. By “early to mid-summer,” state officials aim for every Virginian who wants the vaccine to have received it. 


As of Monday, 355,461 people in our region have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. More than 24,000 people in the D.C. area have been fully vaccinated.

Demographic data shows that among early vaccine recipients in Maryland and Virginia, the largest number of recipients are in their 30s.

How do I schedule a vaccination?

D.C. has opened a web portal that will allow eligible recipients to schedule a vaccination against COVID-19.

Currently eligible to schedule vaccine appointments are those in groups 1A and 1B. (See above for the full breakdown of recipients by phase). Those individuals can register for a vaccine using the portal at coronavirus.dc.gov/vaccinatedc.


Guidance for Virginia health workers seeking to receive a COVID-19 vaccine has been issued by the Virginia Disaster Medical Advisory Committee. Health care facilities in the state are working to vaccinate their workers with the initial batches of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. 

Phase 1A health care workers who do not have access to the vaccine through their workplace should contact their local health department, Virginia officials say.

Nursing home residents will be given vaccines onsite at their facilities by CVS and Walgreens teams, who have partnered with the CDC.

Others can sign up using the portal here: www.vdh.virginia.gov/covid-19-vaccine/


Currently, vaccines are being distributed to health care workers in Maryland through various medical centers.

Nursing home residents in Maryland will also be given vaccines onsite at their facilities through a CVS and Walgreens partnership with the CDC.

Other eligible Marylanders can sign up for an appointment here: www.marylandvax.org/ and covidvax.maryland.gov

Vaccination Portals by County

As vaccinations in our region ramp up, here's a look at local portals residents can use to sign up for vaccination appointments or sign up to receive alerts.

How do the vaccines work?

All but one vaccine under development will require two shots to achieve effectiveness. Pfizer’s second shot is three weeks later, and Moderna’s is four weeks.

"Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed," according to Maryland's official coronavirus vaccine guidelines.

It usually takes a few weeks after the second dose for a vaccine to provide full protection.

Other steps, like wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet away from others will continue to be necessary even after vaccination to help protect others and yourself, Maryland officials say.

Are the vaccines safe?

After receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, some side effects may occur; doctors say this is a normal indication of your body's immune response.

The side effects may "feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days," Maryland officials say.

The CDC says that people who have experienced severe adverse reactions to prior vaccines can still get the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, but should discuss the risks with their doctors beforehand.

British officials are investigating reports that two people who received the Pfizer vaccine had allergic reactions. Medical experts say that while reactions are rare, they aren’t unheard of for vaccines of any kind and are usually short-lived.

Extreme side effects are rare but not unheard of. For example, a Boston doctor who used an EpiPen on himself after having the first known allergic reaction to Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine spoke about his experience.

The doctor, who has a severe shellfish allergy, was taken to the emergency department after receiving his shot and reported feeling normal again a few days later.

Will the vaccine be effective against variant strains of the coronavirus?

Experts says that vaccine efficacy on newer coronavirus strains depends on exactly what the mutation looks like under a microscope.

Scientists say the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 mutates more slowly than the flu, which is good news for vaccine development.

Here's how scientists monitor those changes and how it will affect vaccine development.


Contact Us