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As a ‘Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic’ opens at Seattle University, Washington lowers threshold to 65+ and ramps up rollout — UPDATE

Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University (Image: Swedish)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday an effort to speed the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across Washington that includes lowering the current threshold for those eligible to people 65 years old and up. There will also be a major new push from Washington’s department of health to coordinate statewide vaccinations — especially in a “high throughput” core across Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties.

The changes come amid hope of a nationwide acceleration with the National Guard and FEMA deploying across the country to establish clinics. The federal government says it has distributed more than 31 million doses of vaccine around the country but so far only about 12 million doses have been administered. The Biden administration will also invoke the Defense Production Act to “maximize the manufacture of vaccine and vaccine supplies for the country.”

Washington’s vaccinations have reached around 201,000 people — around 41% of the prioritized population in the state’s first tiers focused on health system workers and high-risk seniors — but far fewer than had been planned by this point and a pace that officials said must be ramped up given worries of increasing spread of COVID-19 and variants.

The state’s new goal is to reach 45,000 people a day — nearly twice as many as are being vaccinated against the virus now.


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State officials have been expressing modest expectations for the rollout saying most people would not receive their first COVID-19 vaccination until May at the earliest, according to guidance from the Washington State Department of Health. It’s not clear, yet, how the new federal push from the Biden administration and the follow on from Inslee will change that timeline.

CHS reported here on the early phases of vaccinations in Washington focused on frontline health workers and at-risk populations like people living in care facilities.

A new, upgraded Phase Finder tool designed to help find out if you are eligible for a COVID vaccine now or sign up to be notified when they become eligible is also now available at findyourphasewa.org.

Seattleites 65 years old but shy of 70 are likely busy putting the new Phase Finder system to find clinics where they can sign up for the vaccinations with Monday’s new threshold announcement. The shift from age 70 to 65 opens the vaccinations in the state up to an additional 400,000 people, officials said, saying that shifting to the 65+ age limit “aligns with new federal guidance from the CDC and makes the vaccine more accessible to more people in high-risk categories.”

UPDATE: For those newly added to the eligible phase — and the rest of us wondering how this process works — the slow start can be frustrating. King County advises the following steps as more resources get put into place:

Here is how to find out what is available now:

  • Call your doctor’s office or healthcare provider to see if they have available vaccination appointments.
  • If you don’t have a provider or if your provider doesn’t have vaccine available, Washington State’s Phase Finder online tool can confirm your eligibility and provide you with a list of possible vaccination locations. This is currently available in English and Spanish and the state has more language versions coming. FindYourPhaseWA.org
  • If you can’t use the online Phase Finder tool and have no one to assist you, you can get help over the phone from Washington state’s COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Available Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and observed state holidays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (note: compared to calling, the online Phase Finder tool may save time if someone can help you.)

You can also see a list of all approved vaccine providers by county here. Many of the providers say they are not yet ready for wide distribution of the vaccines.

Monday, Inslee’s announcement said the state will establish “multiple high-vaccination sites to prepare for future vaccine allocations.” “Some of the sites will build upon existing infrastructure. DOH will coordinate with local health officials and the National Guard to set up the sites,” the announcement reads. Washington DOH will also coordinate volunteer vaccinators to support vaccine administration in Spokane, Kennewick and Bellevue.

In Seattle, Swedish has opened a Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Seattle University.

The clinic is operated and managed by Swedish and will staffed by non-medical volunteers. The clinic will run four days a week initially, Tuesdays through Thursdays and Saturdays with vaccinations will be allocated according to guidance from the Washington State Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control.

You can learn more about the clinic and here.

Clinics, pharmacies, and hospitals will be key in the vaccination push. In the early days especially, the vaccination sites will probably be set up like the typical COVID-19 testing facilities or flu clinics. More innovation will likely follow including drive-thru and walk-up solutions and possibly neighborhood locations like fire stations or churches. On Capitol Hill, a for-profit testing provider that has opened shop on 15th Ave E has said it also plans to provide vaccination services. Work is also underway to plan distribution to harder to reach communities like Seattle’s unhoused population.

The City of Seattle will also be a vaccine distributor with plans for the Seattle Fire Department to deploy mobile clinic services.


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RWK
RWK
1 month ago

“You can learn more about the clinic and here.”

I tried to book an appointment, but didn’t find a way to do that on the link. Can anyone advise? Thanks!

fjn
fjn
1 month ago

Right now all appointments at the Swedish/Seattle U clinic are booked.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
1 month ago

This clinic books 5 days out only, and the slots are always filled. I also tried the UW Medicine covid vaccine clinic, and it’s impossible to book a time on that site. Frustrating!