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D.C. Grocery Store Workers Are Eligible for the Vaccine, But Restaurant Staff Have to Wait

Food service staff are included in Phase 1C of D.C.’s vaccination plan, which begins in March

HBCUs are playing an important role in the country’s vaccine rollout, serving as vaccination sites and working to engender trust in the treatment from their communities. Howard University’s College of Medicine distributed vaccines to the D.C. community on
A 45-year-old woman from Bowie, Maryland, gets vaccinated at Howard University
Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser opened up COVID-19 vaccinations to four new groups of workers this week, but customer-facing restaurant staff are still waiting for their turn despite being classified by the city as “essential” personnel throughout the pandemic.

Starting Thursday, February 18, people in the following categories could begin registering for vaccine appointments: grocery store workers, manufacturing workers, food packaging workers, and workers in health and human services or social outreach. Those groups are part of the final tier within Phase 1B of the District’s vaccination plan.

After announcing eligibility for those four groups Wednesday night, Bowser announced in her Thursday situational report that the city would start accepting appointments for people in Phase 1C — a category that includes restaurant workers — on March 1. The announcement, though, only listed one group that would be eligible to register for vaccination: people between 16 and 64 years old who can “self-attest” that they have one of 20 chronic illnesses that could make a case of the coronavirus more dangerous for them.

The plan D.C. shared in January lists food service workers as the next group behind people with qualifying medical conditions in Phase 1C Tier 1. Bowser had said in a news conference back in January that food service workers would be included in a category of residents with qualifying medical conditions and “other essential” workers that were targeted for February 1 enrollment.

In other words, the rollout is at least a month behind the projection. Meanwhile, the city continues to permit indoor dining — generally acknowledged at this point as a “high-risk” activity — at 25 percent capacity. Food service workers in New York are already eligible to get vaccinated, and they will be in San Francisco starting February 24.

According to figures DC Health shared Thursday, the city has delivered at least one dose of the vaccine to 50,680 people (7.2 percent of residents).

Here’s a look at everyone who is eligible to get a vaccine before and after D.C. restaurant workers, according to the plan the city released January 11.

Eligible for the vaccine

Phase 1A

  • Healthcare Personnel (including veterinary medicine)
  • Fire & Emergency Medical Personnel
  • Frontline Public Health Workers

Phase 1B Tier 1

  • DC Residents age 65 years and older
  • Congregate Settings (intermediate care facilities, community residential facilities, group homes, homeless shelters)
  • Correctional Officers
  • Staff working in Congregate Settings
  • Non-healthcare personnel supporting operations of COVID-19 vaccination clinics

Phase 1B Tier 2

  • Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers
  • Law Enforcement/Public Safety
  • All staff working in K-12 educational facilities
  • All staff working in child care facilities
  • All staff working in grocery stores

Phase 1B Tier 3 (partially)

  • Individuals working in health, human services, and/or social services outreach programs
  • Individuals employed in manufacturing
  • Individuals working in food packaging and distribution
  • Staff working in Courts and Individuals Providing Legal Services (not listed on the latest update)
  • Frontline employees of public (mass) transit (not listed on the latest update)
  • Employees of US Postal Service (not listed on the latest update)

Still waiting

Phase 1C Tier 1 (Begins March 1)

  • D.C. Residents age 16-64 years and older with a chronic medical condition with increased risk of complications for COVID-19 (eligible March 1)
  • Staff working in food service (TBD)
  • Essential employees* in local government agencies (TBD)
  • Essential employees of public utilities (TBD)
  • Essential employees in non-governmental health, human, and social services organizations/agencies (TBD)
  • Individuals working in commercial and residential property maintenance and environmental services (TBD)

Phase 1C Tier 2 (TBD)

  • individuals working in non-public transit transportation services (i.e. for hire vehicles, ride share)
  • Individuals working in logistics/delivery/courier services
  • Essential employees working in media and mass communications

Phase 1C Tier 3 (TBD)

  • All essential employees of institutions of higher education (i.e. colleges, universities, trade schools)
  • Individuals working in construction
  • All essential employees working in information technology
  • Essential employees in federal government agencies
  • Individuals working in commercial and residential property management

Phase 2 (TBD)

  • All D.C. Residents age 16 years and older not included in previous phases