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Seattle’s plan for ‘70%’ includes mass vaccination sites downtown, increased efforts to reach vulnerable communities

Currently, some 7,000 doses per day are being administered in King County (Source)

A King County vaccination center (Image: King County)

Vaccination goals for the county

While the first phase of vaccinating its most vulnerable citizens has been a slog, Seattle and King County are making progress in reaching people 65 and older and plans are being shaped for a major new push in the vaccination effort hoped to start here this spring to meet the ultimate goal — 70% of adults vaccinated against COVID-19.

Seattle officials heard updates on the numbers and challenges Tuesday as the City Council dug into the statistics and issues around vaccination including equity issues related to getting the region’s most vulnerable communities vaccinated.

“I have become increasingly alarmed by the widening racial disparities in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations,” Council President and mayoral candidate Lorena González said Tuesday. “We must address this deeply inequitable problem by shifting and improving our government’s vaccine distribution methods.”

Maps from Public Health underly González’s concerns showing some of the lowest totals for vaccination rates in the areas of Seattle and King County most hard-hit by COVID-19 infections and deaths.


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As of the latest tallies, some 16% of the adult population of King County is reported to have received at least one shot of the vaccines being deployed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Reports prepared for City of Seattle officials are estimating it will take until October to reach 70% — the number at which experts believe the virus can be mostly safely contained in the population.

The first steps in the wider distribution of vaccine beyond medical workers and people living in nursing and assisted facilities have been shaky across the country and here. In Washington, the largest population currently eligible for the vaccine are those 65 and older. A shortfall in promised federal deliveries left many of the community clinics and pharmacies at state-registered distributors like QFC and Safeway without enough vaccine to meet demand. Tuesday, officials said the system is starting to finally catch up with some 7,000 doses being administered every day in King County.

Not all of it is getting to the intended first phase recipients. CHS reported here on “The eligible. The connected. The lucky.” who were able to get vaccinated after a freezer failure at another hospital left the Swedish clinic hosted at Seattle University scrambling to deploy hundreds of doses of vaccine before it expired.

Other examples of “line jumping” are less heart warming with reports of people taking advantage of the honor system and claiming eligibility or using personal connections to received “leftover” vaccine. A representative for federal Rep. Pramila Jayapal said Tuesday that her office was working to ban “special access” by distributors after learning of hospitals giving opportunities for vaccines to donors and board members.

The next steps in Washington’s phased vaccination plan will expand to an even wider population and plans are taking shape to provide the infrastructure necessary to handle up to 18,000 vaccinations a day in Seattle.

More businesses will be involved including chains like Walgreens. And the community clinics including the Swedish project at Seattle U — the city’s current leading location for vaccinations — will also ramp up. The City of Seattle has already deployed mobile vaccination efforts to reach some of its most vulnerable communities.

With assurances of FEMA helping to foot the bill, the city is also planning six mass vaccination sites across Seattle with the ability to conduct at least 1,000 vaccinations per day in West Seattle, South Seattle, and North Seattle. Two more larger sites would be able conduct at least 2,000 vaccinations per day in North Seattle and downtown. And a sixth mega site with capabilities for 10,000 vaccinations per day would also be located in the downtown area.

The mass sites are planned to be semi-permanent installations and will vary in type by location — including possible drive-ups.

Seattle’s goal is to have its mass vaccination sites open before summer depending on vaccine availability.


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Ol Pappy
Ol Pappy
2 months ago

While I agree that the lower vaccination rates in S.King are alarming given the higher rates of infection, I wonder how much of this disparity is due to simple eligibility to receive the vaccine? My impression is that it is substantially younger (and more racially diverse) than other parts of the County.