What's the real COVID vaccination rate for Washington, DC?
The city's numbers aren't clear as vaccine mandate passport hits
The DC vaccine mandate on businesses kicked in today. We, the unvaccinated, are banned from going into restaurants, bars, public meetings, conference centers, fast food, coffee houses, sports venues, concerts, bowling.
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Ostensibly, this is to stop the spread of the contagious omicron virus. But the real objective is to pressure people to get vaccinated. So it’s important to know how many people are vaccinated at the start of this crazy policy. And that is not clear.
I asked DC Mayor Bowser’s aides about some funny numbers on the COVID page. They responded with explanations of the data, but after several back and forths, I really don’t know how to get a straight answer.
So I’ll tell you what I have found out so far and let you decide if this makes any sense — which one would expect in a public health tracking system.
Looking at D.C.’s vaccination data website, it says the rate of residents who are “fully vaccinated” is 68%, and partially vaccinated is 89%.
It also shows raw numbers - below— of who has gotten one or two vaccinations to date. According to the city’s health department, the population is 717,717 — that’s not on this graph, so I did the math to check them here.
The number of DC residents who are “fully vaccinated” is 480,383. That makes it pretty close to 68% “partially or fully vaccinated” as advertised.
The total number who have had at least one dose is 627,822. That’s how the city gets “partially or fully vaccinated” close to an impressive 89%.
Now, here’s the part that doesn’t make sense
When you look at the data by Ward – the sections of the city – it shows a much lower rate of vaccination. The ward data is important because the eastern part of the city is poor and has much lower rates of vaccination.
Look at the map of the wards above for “fully vaccinated.” Remember, the average for the whole city is supposed to be 68%.
But their own map shows a range from 34% to 59% for fully vaccinated. How can the average be above all the individual wards?
Next, I toggled to look at the map by the “health” neighborhoods, which is below. I can the rich (mostly white) neighborhoods are closer to the 68% city-wide average. Petworth is 64%, Chevy Chase is 61% and the expensive new Waterfront condos are at 68%. But these numbers still just don’t add up to the city average.
I emailed Mayor Bower’s staff on Dec. 29 for help explaining this data. I followed up three times before I got this response on Jan. 7 that is attributed to D.C. Health:
Ward level data source is the District of Columbia Immunization Information System (DOCIIS) and demographic information (zip code) where provided.
City-wide data includes District residents vaccinated out-of-state and by federal entities who do not report to DOCIIS.
I really tried to make sense of that answer. But I finally emailed these questions back:
How do federal government workers get included in city-wide data?
How do residents who get a vax in another state get counted by DC - is the CDC gathering information and sharing?
A couple of days later, another aide responded with this quote from DC Health:
We only report vaccination data for District residents. If DC is not the home jurisdiction for Federal Government workers, their information is not included in our count for residents.
For DC residents who are vaccinated outside of the District, we receive aggregate data through our federal partners.
I was still confused, so I emailed them again. “I'm still not sure this answers our original question of how the overall city vaccination rate is so much higher than any ward vaccination rate. As of today, you still have 67% fully vaccinated and not a single ward is even that high and most are much lower.”
I’ve asked a couple more times for them to explain this, but they must be busy with getting ready to shut down the city business to the unvaccinated because I haven't heard back.
So, if you can figure out these numbers, let me know in the comments. I put all the links to the data and uploaded their documents at the bottom in my sources.
The timeline for what they call “VaxDC” is one dose for ages 12+ by Jan. 15 and two doses by Feb. 15.
In a press conference in December announcing this ridiculous policy, she said that vaccine mandates work to increase rates. That’s one of her goals for this new vaccine passport law. As you can see over time, she’s not getting big changes in vaccinations since the first part of last year when they were new and promised to end the pandemic.
DC’s vaccine passport mandate makes no sense because vaccinating and unvaccinated can transmit the virus just the same. If the mayor wanted to close things down to stop the spread, she would mandate tests before entering a business. Instead, she’s filling the city with vaccinated people who very well might have COVID and spreading it around because they feel they’ve been given the green light.
I will be inconvenienced, but I’m mad because it will affect a lot of people who come to DC for school trips, peaceful marches, necessary business meetings and sightseeing for the government and history. Americans should be encouraged and welcome to the nation’s capital!
There is no reason to shame and punish the unvaccinated. As the deadline was settling on Friday, I tweeted to point out all the reasons this was bad policy.
So many people tweeted back to me to say I should move. It reminded me of the time 10 years ago that I tweeted that I wanted to get a gun in DC for self-defense. Back then, everyone on social media said it was impossible and told me “move.”
Well, I didn’t move, and I made the fight public by writing about what it took to get a gun to keep at home in the newspaper. I got the DC city council to change the laws to make it easier to get a gun registered at home.
I’m not moving this time, and I’m not going to stop pushing against this vaccine mandate passport nonsense. The fight is for freedom!
The first step is to figure out if DC is telling the truth about vaccines rates. Let me know if you have any idea what is so wrong with their mapping data.
DC covid data for 1/13/22 (the most recent)
DC Health matters demographics summary data
YouTube DC Mayor Muriel Bowser gives COVID-19 update- announces the “Vax DC” mandate (Dec. 22, 2021)