From none to thousands — Seattle is going through a whipsaw week in a turnaround on the availability of COVID-19 vaccines across the region.
The city’s mayor has taken to making regular updates on appointment availability at city-run vaccination sites in a sudden non-stop recruiting press as the federal pipeline has finally burst forth with increased supply to the state.
Over 3,000 vaccine appointments booked since Monday morning. If you were one of them, thank you! Now we need your help to fill the remaining 14,000 slots – tell your friends, tell your family, tell everyone you know. https://t.co/yu94BG2zkt
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) April 27, 2021
The city says it hopes to administer some 50,000 doses this week though officials were scrambling Tuesday afternoon to fill 14,000 remaining appointment slots at the locations including the city’s “megasite” at Lumen Field. Long gone is the city’s wait list or the state’s “Phase Finder” directory.
Now, in “Phase Everybody” since April 15th, those looking to be vaccinated can schedule appointments at the city sites directly.
Last week, the city says the clinic run jointly with Swedish at the Lumen Field Event Center administered its 50,000th vaccination. At peak capacity, the Lumen megasite can administer 22,000 vaccinations per day, a total officials say the facility is still working to ramp up to reach.
City sites are also now offering second doses to people who live and work in King County even if they got their first dose somewhere else. “We’re continuing to make it easier than ever to get vaccinated. Many Seattleites traveled across the state to get vaccinated or are struggling to schedule a second appointment, and now anyone can make a quick first or second dose appointment at our Seattle sites,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday about the new availability.
The city is currently administering the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines at its sites.
Meanwhile, some of the city’s most vulnerable have been falling behind — Central Seattle has produced the lowest vaccination rate among people 65 years-old and older in all of King County. To address the shortcoming, the city has opened its clinics to walk-ins for those 65 and older and also added a new “Good Neighbor” program to encourage younger people to help get everybody to a clinic.
This week’s rapid shift in availability comes after months of distribution starting in January from the combined systems of federal supplies, cities, medical facilities, and private companies that have been mashed together to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Some will call the path to vaccinating so many Americans a miracle while others will remember the scrambles for websites, phone numbers, and “extra doses” that marked the first months of getting the vaccine out, starting with those oldest Americans most at risk of hospitalization and death.
Across Seattle, first shot rates are currently around 65% — 65% of those in North Seattle are estimated to have had at least one shot, 63% in the central city including Capitol Hill, and 68% across West Seattle and South Seattle.
Somewhere around 40% of the city is currently estimated to be vaccinated — though rates vary from around 48% of 98112’s 20,000 people 16 and up to around 33% in the Central District.
39% of King County adults are estimated to have been fully vaccinated. The statewide estimate is currently just over 28%. Officials have said at least a 70% vaccination rate could be needed to the slow the spread of the virus to levels low enough to bring the pandemic to an end.
In Seattle and King County, meanwhile, new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have continued as officials eye next week’s assessment to determine if the county must roll back its reopening phase and put more strict social distancing and business requirements back in place. It will be a close one. To stay in Phase 3, King County must maintain at least one of two key metrics — the 14-day average of new COVID cases at or below 200 per 100,000 residents, or a seven-day average of new hospitalizations per 100,000 at five or fewer. Its rates in both measures climbed above allowable thresholds last week and currently sit at 229 new positive cases per 100,000 people and 5.5 new hospitalizations per 100,000 per day.
In all, Seattle has recorded 389 deaths related to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last year — a rate of around 52 per 100,000 residents, far below the county’s 68 per 100,000 and the state’s total of 72 per 100,000, the seventh lowest rate in the nation.
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