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‘Future phases’ — Washington sets plan for COVID-19 vaccine rollout with ‘high risk’-only phases through April — UPDATE: Mass vaccination sites

There is a high likelihood that you — a typical CHS reader — will not receive your first COVID-19 vaccination until May at the earliest, according to new guidance from the Washington State Department of Health.

Most Washingtonians — and most of you — fall into a “future phases” plan to come currently slated to run from May through at least December 2021.

“Vaccine prioritization decisions are complex, but based in a need for equitable distribution,” Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah said in the announcement . “Our priority has been to get the vaccine to high-priority people first.”

The newly announced vaccination plan includes the first details from state officials about how it will administrate the process beyond the highly controlled environments of major health providers and care facilities where the first vaccinations were delivered to workers and residents to end 2020. This first vaccination phase — dubbed “phase 1A” by the state, is currently underway and the state says the next phases won’t begin until later this month.

While the state guidance specifies a general timeline for “phase B” when key groups including essential workers in “Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); childcare; corrections, prisons, jails or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement” and “All people 70 years and older,” it does not include important details about communications and how and where the shots will be administered.

“While phase 1A is still the priority, we hope that the release of phase 1B guidance will help facilities, counties and individuals plan for the months ahead,” the state announcement reads. “Once we’re ready to start phase 1B, we will let our communities know how and where to get vaccine.”

Nearly 200 organizations are enrolled as vaccine providers in the state. Any clinic, pharmacy, or hospital can enroll in the program. The first vaccine requires storage at “ultra-cold” temperatures but the state is allowing facilities without that type of unit to apply.

The first round of distribution will be extremely limited with around 20 large sites across the state getting doses for distribution to frontline health workers and assisted living facilities. Eventually, the vaccines will be distributed for access by the general public. 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.

The vaccines acquired with taxpayer money will be free but providers may charge an administration fee that can be reimbursed by health insurance companies or Medicaid and Medicare.

Washington health officials have introduced a new service you can use to find out if you might be eligible in the current vaccination phase or to alert you when criteria changes. You can register at findyourphasewa.org.

Work is also underway to plan distribution to harder to reach communities like Seattle’s unhoused population.

CHS reported here on the details of the vaccines that have received emergency approval and how they are being distributed state by state.

State officials said this week they have received 522,550 doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna and providers had administered around 126,000 doses as of the start of this week.

The Department of Health estimates there are 300,000 to 400,000 health care workers in the state that will need to be vaccinated in the first rounds.

UPDATE: King County has announced a $7 million plan to create mass COVID-19 vaccination sites:

The county plans to launch two vaccination sites in hard-hit south King County as soon as Feb. 1, said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. The county will launch mobile vaccination clinics as soon as possible, Hayes added. County Executive Dow Constantine said the county would pay for these sites with its own budget.

Reopening
The first details of the first months of Washington’s vaccine rollout follow the unveiling of the state’s 2021 reopening plan as it hopes to emerge from the latest lockdowns even as the nation is experiencing record high levels of new cases. While Washington ranks sixth overall by positive cases per capita in the nation, state and local health officials remain concerned about hospital readiness should surges pick back up and continue.

Unlike the summer’s phases, Washington’s new phased approach is regional and ties the fate of Seattle and King County to also slowing the pandemic in neighboring Snohomish and Pierce Counties.

Our “Puget Sound” region will begin in the most restrictive Phase 1 when the new reopening plan goes into effect starting Monday. You can read more about Phase 2 and beyond here.


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Nope
Nope
3 months ago

Just wait for the more virulent eu strain of virus to arrive during then we all go to hell until vaccination. Seems like that could be autumn at this point.

lee
lee
3 months ago

I got the Moderna vaccine this morning at Swedish Cherry Hill (I work in a covid lab) — it was a straightforward process. I hope that those who need it can get it as soon as possible. If I could have swapped places with someone who needed it more than I did, I would have, but this isn’t something I had any control over. So I took the dose I was offered. Now…crossing fingers it works!!!!!

RWK
RWK
3 months ago
Reply to  lee

You don’t have to cross your fingers. It has been definitely and scientifically proven to work, as I’m sure you must know. The main question is: How long will the immunity last?

lee
lee
3 months ago
Reply to  RWK

And what will be the effect of the vaccine on transmission?

happy hospital worker
happy hospital worker
3 months ago

I’m an A2 and got my first dose yesterday (Pfizer – nothing worse than a sore arm)…. and my facility has been doing a superb job IMO at getting this rolled out, so I think the state’s timeline might be a bit overly optimistic… at least for highly populated areas like Seattle. Even vaccinating 7 days a week, more than 12 hours a day (which is happening at my workplace), it simply takes time to get people through the process…

I do hope that once our staff is all covered that they will be able to continue… they’ve got the system down and are doing so well at it, that it would be a shame to disassemble it

Nick
Nick
3 months ago

24/7, more sites, should have ramped up volunteers, extra staff, etc. It’s like we didn’t even know the vaccine was coming. The supply chain / cold storage issues are a real problem that needs to be solved, but lack of staffing or clinics should not be a reason that slows us down.

happy hospital worker
happy hospital worker
3 months ago
Reply to  Nick

Although I didn’t mention it (and probably should have) amount of vaccine available makes a difference too…. I don’t think with the quantities of vaccine our organization has been supplied with that 24/7 would change much at the moment… we’d run out of supply before we run out of appointments. While this might change, I do I know I was able to reschedule to a new, sooner date, from my first appointment because we received more, not because of the lack of a person to administer it….

Nope
Nope
3 months ago

After reading today’s nyt article on hospitals vaccinating all employees rather than frontline medics would be curious what is happening in Seattle….

happy hospital worker
happy hospital worker
3 months ago
Reply to  Nope

I can’t speak for everywhere, but I can tell you that where I work this is not happening. Anyone who works in non-patient facing positions (unless they are in a lab that handles COVID test samples) has not yet been invited and we had to present proof at our appointment. Even those of us who are being vaccinated were prioritized by risk, with the riskiest of positions put first in line.

Nick
Nick
3 months ago

Way too slow, total embarrassment of a plan.

Eli
Eli
3 months ago

It’s surprising that families with cohabitating kids (as long as the parents are 50 or older) are apparently given such a high priority to fall into B1.

This feels like another way in which our society privileges (overwhelmingly heterosexual) families with children over others.

Nat
Nat
3 months ago
Reply to  Eli

It doesn’t say “families” will be vaccinated, it says “people 50 years or older who live in multigenerational households.” Because the virus is primarily spread by younger people, which means the younger people in the household can bring the virus home to the older. I see no indication that the younger people in the family would be vaccinated in the same phase.

This inclusion is also important because multigenerational households are more common in immigrant communities, which have been harder hit by the pandemic overall and have many people working in essential positions. Let them be in B1, sheesh

Eli
Eli
3 months ago
Reply to  Nat

So yeah, I’m not sure why every white cishet parent over 50 with teenagers should qualify to get vaccines ahead of teachers or people with actual underlying health conditions.

as per page 5:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/SummaryInterimVaccineAllocationPriortization.pdf

Not sure what percentage of households with people with someone over age 50 with kids actually constitutes immigrants in WA state. So it seems like an inefficient way to give early access to a lot of otherwise unqualified people.

Why does this matter? If the system feels unfair, its encourages people to take any steps to cheat their way in front of the line as they can (which appears to rely mostly on an honor system.)

Boba Met
Boba Met
3 months ago
Reply to  Eli

You serious? Many immigrant families include a grandparent or two (over 50) in the same house or apartment as a teen or young adult. What is confusing about this?

Eli
Eli
3 months ago
Reply to  Boba Met

If you think that my comment is about confusion, I think you may be the one confused.

Boba Met
Boba Met
3 months ago
Reply to  Eli

It’s because one if the most frequent sites of covid transmission is in the home. If you are over 50 and sharing a home with younger people who are more likely to be asymptomatic, your chances of infection are quite high.

Boba Met
Boba Met
3 months ago
Reply to  Eli

You may be unaware, but in many other cultures outside the US, people become parents in their teens and early 20s, and often live with their parents, or even grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc

Kayak
Kayak
3 months ago
Reply to  Eli

I thought it was surprising placement as well because that’s a very large age range from 50-70. However when digging into the doc linked in the above comment – it does say does “Not include an older adult who is able to live independently and is taking care of the individual’s children”. So I think the intent is to protect those older with working individuals in the home and older adults who are primary care takers for others (not their own young children). For sure needs better messaging though because it’s confusing and misleading as written.

The honor system is likely going to prove problematic but I’d welcome that problem right now! I think it would be helpful if DOH could publish estimates of how many people they think are in each phase. The first problem to set up infrastructure and processes to quickly distribute and track is going to take a bit of solving first so looking forward to progress there.

Ron Berg
Ron Berg
2 months ago
Reply to  Eli

It explicitly says “not Families”

Capitol Hill Resident
Capitol Hill Resident
3 months ago
Reply to  Eli

Does anyone know whether “multigenerational” here mean three generations under one roof, versus two? If it means three generations, that makes more sense to me in terms of priorities. (As in not me, I just turned 50 and have three kids under 18 living at home but no grandparents living with us, I don’t think I should be high priority.)

Ron Berg
Ron Berg
2 months ago

You are not included in the 50+ category, it explicitly says not families

Prentiss
Prentiss
3 months ago

Well, I might as well roll over and die now. I’m 68 and have MDS – the first step toward acute myeloid leukemia. Hey, that’s only one underyling condition, so according the chart I won’t get a vaccine until some undetermined time in the future. Certainly after May. If we’d stayed in CA I would likely be getting my vaccine in February or early March. Thanks, WADOH. For, literally, nothing.

Zach
Zach
3 months ago
Reply to  Prentiss

On a broader level, you might add, thanks Trump Administration for killing us. The states can only do so much. I’m frustrated too, but isolating blame to WADOH ignores that WA State government has been pleading for federal help since the beginning. I may not get the vaccine until 2022 at this rate and even then if enough people aren’t yet vaccinated overall here and globally, the herd immunity won’t have the necessary power. Long way to go. On your case, I’d suggest delving more deeply into the definitions of underlying conditions. Maybe yours in terms of their guidelines qualifies as two for something happening also. Now I am curious what the “everyone else” breakdown is going to be that the chart doesn’t yet cover.I also want to know what percent of population has been vaccinated as we go.

happy hospital worker
happy hospital worker
3 months ago
Reply to  Zach

And also before you start thinking we’re doing so poorly here, other states have been taking different approaches with I’d argue even less success. In NY, they started our ultra strict and have been wasting doses…… in Fla they’ve opened it up first come first served, with I think, only an age limit and it’s been geriatric mad max….

KinesthesiaAmnesia
KinesthesiaAmnesia
3 months ago

Just because other places are sucking more than WA doesn’t mean we aren’t doing so poorly.

Ryan
Ryan
3 months ago

Thank you for posting this info.

Details
Details
3 months ago

“multi-generational” is clearly defined as “2 or more generations” in one household. See page 5 in this doc.

I agree that this prioritization is a bit surprising. They must have seen lots of deaths and hospitalizations among 50+ year old parent/grandparents in lower income households (above average risk due to age + above average risk due to young person in the house =

If you want to get outraged, I’d direct that outrage at the slow pace instead of the details of specific phases.

I would far rather see the rollout going fast with poor targeting than slow with good (or excellent) targeting. They seem far more concerned with trying to be clever about the groupings than about scaling up the speed. Meanwhile, the stockpile of doses in Washington continues to grow faster than the rate of administration.

This whole plan was behind schedule on the day they pressed “submit”. They’re talking about starting B2 in February, and yet the tool (“PhaseFinder”) to collect the data for B1 and subsequent phases doesn’t even launch until January 18th.

I really don’t understand how state and local governments are getting caught flat-footed on a vaccination roll-out plan.

Angry
Angry
3 months ago

We need to follow Israel’s lead and vaccinate anyone who is willing to take it after the needs list is done for the day. This is way too slow! We should be DONE by May! NY is rolling out 24/7 sites. That future phases TBD graphic is an embarrassment. May TBD should be “we’ve vaccinated every willing person in WA.” What a bureaucratic mess.

Jim
Jim
3 months ago

ANGRY, ANGRY…..What a mess. My wife and I are both retired, over 65 and are NOT on the current list. It appears that if we were homeless, we could get a vaccine. So, I suppose we are in the TBD category. What happen to OLD people with underlying conditions. I suppose they will take the risk with us…….time for Inslee to go……..

B in the CD
B in the CD
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Looks like you would be in the B3 group in March since you are over 16 and have underlying conditions per the description of that group.

CD Rez
CD Rez
3 months ago

It’s infuriating that there’s no coherent federal policy expediting this.