3:04 PM: Right now, many pandemic-related questions are focused on vaccination availability – people wondering when and how they will get vaccine access. Viewable above (
live and archived afterward), Gov. Jay Inslee is providing updates. We’ll add notes as it goes.
Inslee says it’s “the start of what we think of as the second stage of our vaccination initiative” – and says he has six announcements. First, the state is moving into Phase 1B of vaccinations, and changing the first tier so all Washingtonians 65 and older are eligible to get vaccinated immediately.
Also, those 50 and over who are living in “multigenerational households” are eligible immediately. (Note: This does not apply to parents living with children, but rather people giving cqre to someone such as a grandchild or niece/nephew, the state says.) Once about half the 1B “first tier” is vaccinated, they’ll move to the next tier.
2nd announcement: A statewide goal to make 45,000 vaccinations a day available in Washington as soon as possible. That’s three times the current rate. “Over the next several months we’ll be building toward that goal.” That’s dependent on receiving “more doses from the federal government,” he cautions.
3rd announcement: “We’re going to set up mass vaccination sites statewide,” with National Guard and other support. He lists four sites for starters, none in Seattle or King County (though as he notes, King County has some under development).
4th announcement: New criteria to ensure health-care providers are administering the vaccine appropriately – 95 percent of vaccine doses must be given within a week of being received by a provider. Any doses already received have to be given by next Sunday.
5th announcement: PhaseFinder is being launched so you can figure out where you are in terms of eligibility. He says that’s supposed to help you figure out where to get vaccinated, too. Here’s the link.
6th announcement: A public-private partnership to help marshal vaccination efforts. “We are going to mobilize thousands of people to save people from this virus.” He introduces pre-announced guests including reps of Microsoft, Starbucks, Kaiser Permanente, Sea Mar Community Health, and SEIU Local 1199.
3:24 PM: So far the execs haven’t offered specifics on their roles except that they’re supporting the effort. Kaiser Permanente Washington’s president notes that her company has mass-vaccination experience and is “all in.”
3:33 PM: Now speaking, new Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah. He says the state has given more than 294,000 vaccine doses so far – 42 percent of what the state’s received – a better percentage than last week’s briefing. He stresses again that starting Phase 1B-1 means everyone 65 and older is eligible. He says those in 1B-1 should start hearing from their providers,. If you’re not in 1B-1, “continue to be patient.” But he also says they’re stressing measures to ensure leftover vaccine will not go to waste – giving providers some discretion (stand by for details on that).
3:45 PM: Now Q&A. First question about how many wasted doses – no specific number yet but “very minimal.” … The governor says “partners'” strategy previously might have been “we’ll wait for the doses and then figure out how to get them out” (paraphrasing), but now the plan is to plan to be ready for whatever arrives. He also noted that 2,400 pharmacies are now going to be part of the delivery system. … Next question observes, as we noted above, that it’s not clear what the “partners” will be doing, so they’re asking for elaboration. Also: How do you find out? Dr. Shah says providers have plans for contacting their members/patients; also, PhaseFinder is supposed to show locations near you “where the vaccine has been delivered.” He adds that another tool will be launched within two days – a dashboard with more info on how much vaccine has been received and administered, by county. … State officials promise they’ll make it easier to find out where the vaccine is. The governor adds that “the goal is to give people many kinds of opportunities.” But he cautions that 1.5 million are now eligible – and they only have a tenth of the supply that would require – so be patient. (Added: The state is getting 100,000 “first doses” each week right now.)
3:57 PM: Now that the governor’s eligible (69 years old), he says he plans to get vaccinated within several days (along with wife Trudi Inslee). … How can the state get more vaccine? Pfizer has assured the state that they’re increasing production, the governor says, for one. “We should have high confidence that the numbers of doses will increase in coming months.” He also urges providers to make appointments rather than holding back for fear they won’t have vaccine. … The briefing wraps up at 4:13 pm; the archived video should be available above shortly.
BOTTOM LINE: Though many more people are eligible, there’s not enough vaccine available – yet – for them all to get it immediately. Public Health Seattle/King County elaborates on this here. … Here’s what the governor’s website has published about all this.