Washington State intends to triple its rate of vaccinating against the COVID-19 virus in a partnership with private companies announced this week by Governor Jay Inslee.
The Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center aims to increase the vaccination rate from the current 15,000 a day to 45,000 as soon as possible. It includes corporations such as Microsoft and Starbucks, labor unions, health care groups including pharmacies and governments.
The move includes lowering eligibility from persons age 70 and older to 65 and others 50 and older living in multi-generational households. Inslee cautioned that it may take several months to compensate for lagging vaccination results so far. Though 1.5 million people currently are eligible for shots, the state is receiving 100,000 doses a week, he said. At the current rate of receiving shipments, it would take 15 weeks to obtain enough vaccines to reach all who are currently eligible for shots.
The goal is for 95% of future shipments from the federal government to be administered within a week including a requirement to make daily progress reports to the state, Inslee said.
Though the effort is ambitious, anyone interested in getting a shot will need to be patient, Inslee said. He acknowledged that more appointments for shots may be booked before sufficient vaccine supplies arrive in the state.
To help, the state Department of Health has launched an online Phase Finder to determine whether users are eligible for shots. The state is making vaccines available for residents on a priority basis. It began with health care workers and persons living in long-term care facilities. Inslee advised that those interested in shots also can contact their health care providers to learn how to get vaccinated.
Details of the roles members of the partnership will play are yet to be announced. A spokesman for Microsoft said the company planned to open an unused facility on its Redmond campus as a vaccination site.
Sources: Governor’s Office; Department of Health, Seattle Times, press conference