WASHINGTON — D.C. is set to open 11 walk-up vaccination clinics this weekend as it moves away from the preregistration portal. But, Ward 1 neighbors noticed that there's no clinic in their area.
"In this stage, now that the Mayor has decided to eliminate the preregistration process, we have to ensure that vaccines are accessible all across the District," Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau said. "If we're going to have 11 walk-up vaccination sites, there should be at least one in every ward."
D.C. provided the following list of walk-up clinics that open Saturday, May 1:
- Arena Stage | 1101 6th Street, Southwest
- Fort Stanton Recreation Center | 1812 Erie Street, Southeast
- Kenilworth Recreation Center | 4321 Ord Street, Northeast
- Lamond Recreation Center | 20 Tuckerman Street, Northeast
- Langdon Park Community Center | 2901 20th Street, Northeast
- Providence Health System | 1150 Varnum Street, Northeast
- Rosedale Recreation Center | 1701 Gales Street, Northeast
- Turkey Thicket Recreation Center | 1100 Michigan Avenue, Northeast
- University of the District of Columbia | 4200 Connecticut Avenue, Northwest
- Walter E. Washington Convention Center (GW MFA) | 801 Mount Vernon Place, Northwest
- Entertainment and Sports Arena (May 1 ONLY) | 1100 Oak Street, Southeast; After May 1: RISE Demonstration Center | 2730 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, Southeast
As D.C. transitions to the walk-up clinics, they're also getting rid of the preregistration portal on Wednesday. Instead, the vaccine site will direct residents to the vaccine finder site, where people will sign up for each clinic individually.
Councilmember Nadeau and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners agree that walk-up clinics are a great next step in the vaccination process, but barriers remain. Nadeau said transportation has been one of the biggest issues her constituents have encountered.
"So the ability to be vaccinated in the ward that you live in is really critical to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to get vaccinated," Nadeau said.
Columbia Heights in Ward 1 has also had the most COVID cases of any neighborhood in the District, at 2,321 positives according to D.C. data published Monday.
Currently, data shows that 17.74% of Columbia Heights residents have been vaccinated, which places the area in the middle of the pack in terms of coverage.
"I think we're at the point now where we can't really say that we don't have enough supplies, the vaccine," Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 1A01, Layla Bonnot said. "I think now it's really connecting people and meeting them where they are, whether that's around language access, disability access, the hours that you're working, the transportation needs that you have, it's really just running through that list and making sure that we're meeting people where they are and getting the vaccine."
"The great thing is that Ward 1 is really densely populated and geographically compact, so almost any walkup location in Ward 1 will be accessible to most Ward 1 residents," Nadeau said.
She has multiple suggestions for clinic locations, including Sacred Heart Church, Prince Hall Lodge on U Street, or any of the nonprofits or open spaces in the ward.
Still, Bonnot and other ANCs think the biggest vaccine barrier for their neighbors is language access.
"Even the mailers that are going out to residents, the one I got most recently was just in English. It had a phone number and a website on it," Bonnot said. "So you continue to see these missed opportunities where I don't know if things are being rushed to just get them out. But we're definitely missing some residents."
Both Bonnot and Nadeau plan to participate in Saturday's outreach but are waiting to determine what exactly that will involve — since the preregistration system is ending.
Amanda Farnan, a community chair and candidate with ANC 1B, lead a letter calling for a walk-up site to be added in Ward 1 -- asking for D.C. Health to announce a clinic in Ward 1 before this Saturday’s day of action.
D.C. Health did not respond immediately to questions about why Ward 1 was not given a walk-up clinic.