Washington governor wants to vaccinate 45K people a day

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday announced a plan to set up vaccination sites statewide with help from the National Guard and others as part of an overall goal to vaccinate 45,000 people a day.

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Inslee said while the goal is currently higher than the current allotment of vaccine the state is receiving from the federal government — 100,000 doses a week — the state is working to get the infrastructure in place now for that amount once doses increase. The state is currently vaccinating between 13,000 and 15,000 people a day, he said.

Starting next week, vaccination sites will be set up at the Spokane Arena, the Benton County Fairgrounds in Kennewick, Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee and the Clark County Fairgrounds in Ridgefield.

The state's allocation for next week will be divided between the new sites, pharmacies and local clinics, along with existing vaccination sites in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties.

The governor also announced a public-private partnership with business, health care and labor entities — led by the state Department of Health — on areas ranging from coordination of volunteer vaccinators to communications support.

Under the plan Kaiser Permanente will be involved with the planning and delivery of mass vaccination, Starbucks will be involved with operations and logistics support, Microsoft will be involved in technology expertise and support and Costco will assist on vaccine delivery by pharmacies. The Washington State Nurses Association will be on hand for safety and health consultation, and two unions will also play a role. SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW will coordinate volunteer vaccinators and United Food and Commercial Workers 21 will coordinate staffing and training.

"This is a massive effort,," Inslee said. “We are mobilizing thousands of workers and resources to save people from this virus.”

Inslee said that the state is now ready to move to Phase 1B on the vaccination schedule, and that the vaccination phase is changing immediately to include those who are 65 and older. Previously 1B was to include those 70 years or older, but Inslee noted that a vast majority of the state's COVID deaths have been among those 65 and older.

“Our vaccine prioritization reflects the need to protect these most vulnerable Washingtonians,” Inslee said.

In December, the state started vaccinating health care workers, high-risk first responders and people living or working in nursing homes. And later phases will include people 50 and older who work in congregate settings like agriculture or grocery stores, and those 16 or older with underlying medical conditions.

According to the CDC, the state has received nearly 700,000 doses, but have administered less than half. State secretary of health Dr. Umair A. Shah said that 294,000 vaccines have been administered, but said he knows they need to ramp up vaccination rates.

"We want to get shots in arms, and we want to do this quickly," he said. “We have to do everything we can to make sure we are vaccinating as many Washingtonians as possible.”

Inslee said that starting immediately, 95% of all future vaccine allocations must be administered within the first week after receipt, with updated data provided to the state daily. And every dose allocated prior to this week must be administered by Jan. 24.

“There are simply too many people who need access to COVID vaccines for this process to lag any further,” Inslee said.

The U.S. has recorded more than 23 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 397,000 deaths. There have been more than 277,000 cases in Washington state, and 3,903 deaths.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, although long-term effects are unknown. But for some, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.