Adult vaccination rates above 88%, hundreds still waiting on exemption status


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WASHINGTON (WDVM) — According to District of Columbia Health data, over 88 percent of District residents 18 and older have taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. That number increases to 98.5 percent when looking at those 65 and older.

These percentages were reached with minimum vaccination mandates. Currently, the District government only requires healthcare workers, adults working in schools or with children and student-athletes 12 and older to be vaccinated with no test-out option.

Of those required by the city government to be vaccinated, under 3,000 submitted exemption requests. Within D.C. Public Schools, there are 390 pending exemptions. 12 exemptions have been denied and three have been approved. The bulk of exemption requests came from healthcare workers, with 2,287. D.C. Fire and EMS workers submitted 293 requests, with 251 of those being religious.

Most of the requests are still pending, and City Administrator Kevin Donahue said that is because the District is being very deliberate in making decisions on exemption requests, in order to hold off future legal action or decisions being overturned.

He said, “As we go through and review these exemption requests deliberatively, we will start to see outcomes and it’s my hope, and I know the Chief’s hope, that everyone gets vaccinated.”

So far, D.C. Health has suspended seven Fire and EMS employees’ healthcare licenses due to refusal of vaccination. In these cases, the employees lacked an exemption request. They are all going to be put on unpaid leave pending termination.

Dr. Nesbitt said that D.C. Health is working through the requests from healthcare workers, and that her office has sent out thousands of noncompliance letters.

Any private business that wants to implement a vaccine mandate has the right to do so, according to the Mayor’s office.

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