Washington To Increase COVID-19 Vaccinations


Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced an updated statewide vaccine distribution and administration plan to increase the number of Washingtonians vaccinated and establish infrastructure capable of mass vaccinations in the coming months. With the expanded vaccine distribution system, the state set a goal of vaccinating 45,000 Washingtonians per day.

Included in the plan is the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, a new statewide public-private partnership to boost vaccine distribution efforts. The collaboration includes Washington corporations, labor unions, health care groups and government entities.

“This is a massive effort, and as noble as any cause will be in 2021: Because this is the year we choose to get vaccinated, Washington,” Inslee said during a press conference Monday. “We are removing as many impediments as possible to Washingtonians getting vaccinated, we are going to deliver every dose that comes into our state. We will still be dependent on the federal government for doses, but we are doing everything we can once it gets here.”

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced today that we are moving into Phase 1B tier 1, expanding access to COVID-19 vaccine to thousands more people per week. As of January 16, we’d given almost 294,386 doses of vaccine. That’s 42.3% of the 696,075 total doses of vaccine that have been delivered to Washington state. Last week, we were giving an average of 14,300 vaccines per day. With the actions announced today, we will make forward progress that we need on vaccines.

“The vaccine is a lifesaving tool. We want to get shots in arms and we want to do this quickly. Today’s announcement helps us expand beyond our healthcare sector to other Washingtonians,” says Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH.

We are focusing on expanding the phases and providing more flexibility for providers giving out the vaccine. Our goal is to vaccinate 45,000 people a day, but since we do not have that amount of vaccine coming into our state just yet, in the meantime we are not waiting, but instead building our capacity. This depends on the close coordination of the state with our local partners including health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and providers – everyone who works together to get that lifesaving dose to you.

Phase changes

• We’re changing the age restrictions from 70 and older – to 65 and older. This change means that now people 65 and older will be able to get a vaccine. This will align with the federal government announcement last week.

• We will not be changing 1B tier 3 to just one underlying condition.

• The state will allow providers flexibility for Phase 1B tier 2 through tier 4 eligible individuals to allow for easier administration of the vaccine in congregate settings and workplaces to help increase the throughput. For example, if a school district arranged for a clinic for phase B2-B4, all eligible workers could be vaccinated at the same time.

Our hope is to get to phase 1B tiers 2, 3 and 4 in late winter or early spring. We’re going to get through 50% of tier 1 before we add in anyone else.

Phase Finder

If you want to know what phase you’re in, find your spot in line with Phase Finder. Here’s how it works:

• Go to FindYourPhaseWA.org and fill out the questionnaire.

• If you’re eligible, you will get a confirmation.

• Phase Finder will show you locations where you can get the vaccine.

• Call and schedule your appointment.

• Take your Eligibility Confirmation (printed or a screenshot) with you.

• If you aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, you’ll be able to sign up to get an email or text alert when you are.

Multigenerational households

One of the things that we’re not changing is prioritizing people in multi-generational households. One of the strongest themes we have heard from communities is the unique risk that exists for older adults and elders in multigenerational households. We recognize that many people who live in these households may live with an essential worker who is bringing potential work exposure home. We also know that our BIPOC, refugee and immigrant communities are more likely to live in multi-generational households, are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and older adults in these communities are less likely to be reached in long term care facilities.

Prioritizing older adults and elders in these households is our way of ensuring protection for these high-risk individuals who weren't reached through long term care facilities in Phase 1A.

For clarity, a multigenerational household is a home where individuals from 2 or more generations reside – such as an elder or grandchild.

Here’s an example of someone in a multigenerational household who is eligible: Think of a person over 50 who cannot live independently and receives long-term care from a caregiver, lives with someone who works outside the home, or lives with and cares for a grandchild.

Waste

With all this talk about prioritization, we also want to emphasize: Waste is the last thing we want. We don’t want any provider to think they should throw it in the trash instead of giving it to someone. These have to get to the people of Washington and they have to get out now. If there are extra vaccine doses that are at risk of going to waste, providers may give them to the next right person. Moving into Phase 1B represents a big step forward – but we must be vigilant in preventing waste whenever and wherever we can.

Next steps

Washington started the COVID fight before anyone in the country, just about a year ago. And it’s because of you that our transmission rates and disease spread have been so low – some of the best in the country. It’s amazing to think that now, we’re at the vaccine stage. But now, we need to be patient for just a while longer as we start to open things up, and get more people this life-saving vaccine, because vaccines are coming – but they’re not all here yet.

While you are waiting for vaccine you can still do the three W’s: Wear a mask, Wash your hands and Watch your distance.

So stand beside us as we get this vaccine out and out fast. Be patient. We pledge to move the needle for the people of Washington.

The vaccine rollout plan is expansive, and the governor’s office is announcing even more exciting changes. You can read about them here.

If you have questions, you can get help over the phone from State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Phone interpretation is available.