Washington’s phased expansion of COVID-19 vaccination eligibility might be a little hard to follow but it is making progress. For the first time, the state’s totals of those vaccinated has overtaken the number of currently infected — and important new categories of workers including teachers, police officers, firefighters, and public transit employees will soon be eligible for the vaccines.
The advances come as the nation marks one year of pandemic and more than 500,000 COVID-19 related deaths nationwide including more than 5,000 in Washington.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday an expanded second tier within the state’s first phase of vaccine rollout that will allow essential workers including vital grocery, agriculture, and food processing workers to join the week’s earlier addition of educators and child care providers among those eligible to received the vaccine in the state:
Phase 1b Tier 2 – opening March 22• All critical workers in certain congregate settings (change: no longer tiered by age; list of qualifying congregate settings has been expanded)• People age 16 or older who are pregnant (new qualification)
• People age 16 or older who have a disability that puts them at higher risk (change: moved up from a later tier)Phase 1b Tier 3• Opening April 12: People with 2 or more comorbidities age 50 or older• Opening April 26: People with 2 or more comorbidities age 16 or olderPhase 1b Tier 4 – opening April 26• People who live in congregate housing• Staff and volunteers who work in congregate settings not covered in 1B tier 2
How the state transitions to the wider “future phases” is still yet to be spelled out but, based on volume alone, there is a good chance the rest of us will get our first shot at Seattle’s “mega” mass vaccination site planned to open later this month at Lumen Field south of downtown where officials expect to administer 21,000 vaccinations a day and serve the wider region as vaccine supply ramps up.
The Biden administration announced this week it expects national totals to reach capacities capable of providing national coverage of every adult by the end of May thanks in part to the arrival of the recently authorized vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson joining the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna supplies.
Even with the end of May delivery target, it will take weeks and possibly months to administer the vaccine at such massive scale meaning you could still be waiting for your first shot in July.
The pandemic has slowed to rates last seen in early fall and officials say there is progress reaching vulnerable communities in the first phase of the state’s vaccination plan. The goal is for Seattle to reach a 70% vaccination level for its population that officials say will allow the area to successfully emerge from the crisis.
In Washington, there is growing hope that the tide has turned. This week, the percentage of those receiving at least one dose of vaccine finally crossed over the percentage of those currently reported to be infected with the virus. It’s a tenuous moment of victory. At current vaccination levels, outbreaks could easily rear their ugly heads again to catch back up in the terrible race.
Washington is the 6th US state and most populous state yet to have more people vaccinated against COVID-19 (16%) than infected with COVID-19 (15%).https://t.co/EObHiVGkSb
I won't update this thread after this, but these states will round out the top 10: NH, DC, WV, and NM. pic.twitter.com/FYSu39Pef2
— Youyang Gu (@youyanggu) March 3, 2021
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