Washington Vaccine Rollout: Where Things Stand

    Charles Woodman, Patch Staff

    Posted Sat, Mar 20, 2021 at 7:37 pm PT
    Kim Vo, a pharmacist from the Seattle Indian Health Board, administers a vaccine to staff from the Seattle Public Schools on March 15, 2021 in Seattle. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON — If you're eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, it might be smart to get vaccinated soon, as competition for doses is about to get significantly steeper.

    The state's vaccine rollout has made big strides over the past month. While those improvements are here to stay, soon a lot more people will be eligible for the vaccine and supplies won't be growing to match demand — at least not for the foreseeable future.

    Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that, starting March 31, Washington would enter the next tiers of the vaccine distribution plan. The move will make an estimated 2 million more Washingtonians eligible for a shot. Currently, around 3 million are eligible.

    However, as hundreds of thousands of newly-eligible Washingtonians rush to get their shots, the state may not have the supply to meet that demand. In fact, the current outlook shows Washington receiving fewer new shots at the end of the month than it did this week.

    According to the latest allocation forecast from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), the Evergreen state received around 345,080 total doses this week. For both the week of March 28 and the week of April 4, Washington will only be getting 343,700 total doses. That's not much of a decline, but considering how many more people will be trying to get their first shot, it does mean there's likely to be waitlists or shortages for some.

    That's why state leaders are urging everyone who is currently eligible for vaccination to get their shots ASAP if they want to beat the rush.

    "On Wednesday about 600,000 more Washingtonians became eligible for the COVID vaccine, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get this vaccine," Inslee said. "It works, it's safe, it's fairly convenient, and it can save your life and your loved ones."

    On the positive side, Washington's health care providers do have the capacity to administer more doses should supplies increase. According to the DOH, Washington providers requested 454,670 vaccine doses this week. Due to supply shortages across the country, providers are only supposed to request as many doses as they can feasibly administer.

    There are other reasons to be optimistic as well. The state has significantly boosted the number of daily vaccinations, and while the numbers have tapered off slightly this past week they're leagues ahead of where we were in February.

    (Image: Washington State Department of Health)

    The DOH says that growth is in part because of recent successes at the four state-run mass vaccination sites in Spokane, Ridgefield, Wentachee and Kennewick. As of Saturday, the four sites have administered a total 131,483 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Saturday also marks one week since Seattle's mass vaccination site opened at the Lumen Field Events Center. Currently, the site is performing around 5,000 doses every few days, but could support more than 20,000 doses a day if supplies grow.

    Finally, there is a new tool from the DOH to help residents in need find a vaccine. It can be found at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov, and allows users to search for available vaccine doses by zip code, and provides links to set up appointments.

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