(Washington, D.C., January 25, 2021) On January 21, DC Health announced the plan to open up vaccine access, possibly as soon as February, to an expansive population including habitual smokers or anyone with a body mass index over 25.

Global Liver Institute (GLI), a global liver patient advocacy organization proudly headquartered in Washington, DC, applauds the leadership of Mayor Muriel Bowser during this ongoing global crisis. We also acknowledge that the current COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented pressure on the district’s health care system and recognize the many concerns that COVID-19 presents to many people. However, we are particularly concerned about the health and well being of people with serious chronic liver conditions, and others impacted by liver disease who are particularly vulnerable to the virus and its health consequences.

In our letter to Mayor Bowser, we stress our appreciation of the expansion of the vaccine priority list and the increase in vaccination sites in DC; however, we also make it clear that we have serious concerns about the list being so expansive that it will swamp the already strained vaccine delivery logistics.

A central goal for Mayor Bowser and DC Health is to achieve health equity within DC. This is why DC Health must understand that not only are communities of color at a much higher risk for developing liver disease, but with COVID-19 added to the equation, these communities are at an even greater risk of severe illness or death. On top of this mounting concern is the reality that chronic liver disease is not the only serious disease that disproportionately impacts communities of color.

This is why GLI feels strongly that, as long as vaccine supply remains low, vaccines should be distributed to the most vulnerable populations. We stress to Mayor Bowser that DC must adhere more closely to the risk data and ensure an appropriate allocation of vaccines. At a minimum, we suggest that DC should hew closely to President Biden’s COVID-19 response plan. COVID-19 is disrupting the normal life of many Washingtonians, but especially for individuals with liver disease or in an immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant, and communities of color.


About Global Liver Institute

Global Liver Institute (GLI) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt not-for-profit organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, with offices in the U.S. and Europe. GLI’s vision is for liver health to take its place on the global public health agenda commensurate with its prevalence and impact. GLI’s mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families impacted by liver disease through promoting innovation, encouraging collaboration, and supporting the scaling of optimal approaches to help eradicate liver diseases. Follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn.