Vaccination in D.C. Is Not Going Well as We Would Think

Here’s the percentage of fully vaccinated people from over two weeks ago by ward:
Screen Shot 2021-05-18 at 8.07.29 AM

Here’s the percentage of fully vaccinated people as of Monday by ward (two weeks later):
Screen Shot 2021-06-02 at 6.31.13 PM

Two things to note. First, vaccination is stalling out. Across the city as a whole, the percentage of partially or fully vaccinated adults (which excludes about twelve percent of the population) is increasing by less than 1.5% per week–and it’s that number which is key since partially vaccinated people usually become fully vaccinated ones, but unvaccinated people remain unvaccinated (obvious, but true). While D.C. is doing better than many states, COVID-19 doesn’t grade on a curve, it just needs unvaccinated hosts. Second, the disparity between east-of-the river and everyone else is widening.

A couple caveats. First, D.C. doesn’t have information for nearly thirty percent of the fully vaccinated population, though I doubt these ‘missing vaccinees’ are disproportionately winding up in Wards 7 and 8 (and thereby closing the gap). Second, some wards have far fewer children than others, so, for example, Ward 8 isn’t doing quite as badly as it would seem, in terms of the percent of adults who are vaccinated. Of course, kids can spread COVID-19, and increasingly, there’s evidence to suggest no difference in transmission between children and adults, so that puts Ward 8 further behind the 8-ball (if we assume we need eighty percent vaccination to acquire some sort of herd immunity, then just about every person over the age of eleven in Ward 8 would need to be vaccinated to reach that mark).

This is not good. We need to do the following:

  1. Make it absolutely clear there is no cost to the vaccine. At this point, the city should consider just paying the cost, rather than asking for insurance information in an attempt to get reimbursed. This is pennywise and pound foolish.
  2. Require employers provide sick leave due to vaccination complications.
  3. Keep the vaccination centers open and open late. Unfortunately, D.C. seems to be moving in the opposite direction here.
  4. At the federal level, over which, due to D.C.’s colonial status, we have no control whatsoever, the vaccine needs to be moved from emergency use status. We need to be able to mandate vaccination, at least when we can.
  5. D.C. has to begin considering a more punitive approach. While some of the lessons that have been mislearned regarding public health interventions would require a separate post (probably several), there are a fair number of people who will get vaccinated if given proper incentive. These are less the vaccine hesitant, and more vaccine whatevers. There is a compelling argument to be made that, if unvaccinated parents send their kids to school in the fall, both those parents and the wider community are at risk. I think parents need to be told that if they’re not vaccinated, then they need to consider ‘Zoom learning.’ Would there be downsides? Yes, but there are a lot of people who need this sort of ‘motivation’ to get vaccinated.

We really have to get on this. I’m worried that the Bowser administration has decided that they’re just going to declare victory sometime in late June, regardless of vaccine uptake. Meanwhile, Wards 7 and 8 will keep take a beating.

Anger is the appropriate emotion.

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1 Response to Vaccination in D.C. Is Not Going Well as We Would Think

  1. John says:

    I think the data you present shows percentages of the whole population vaccinated. If so, and it appears you imply this, a chunk (kids below 12) is literally unable to be vaccinated at present and therefore skews the numbers. It would help if you actually spelled this out.

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