3:47 PM: The governor has just announced that all Washingtonians – 16 and up, since no vaccine is yet approved for younger people – will be eligible for vaccination as of April 15th, 2+ weeks earlier than previously announced. This comes on the day 2 million more became eligible. He also warns of a “disturbing uptick” in cases, so he urges everyone to continue precautions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. Updates as the briefing goes.
3:54 PM: He says he’s very concerned about the 28 percent of people over 65 – more than 333,000 in our stqte – who have not yet been vaccinated and so are “living in the danger zone.” So if you know someone that applies to, he says, do everything you can to urge them to go get it. …. Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah says the state is now vaccinating 54,000 people a day, beyond its goal, and that 3.2 million doses have now been administered. If internet use is a barrier to someone making an appointment, he notes there’s a hotline, 800-525-0127. He also echoes the warning that “the pandemic’s not over until it’s over.”
4:07 PM: Before getting to media Q&A, the governor moves off the pandemic for a bit and talks about climate legislation in Olympia and DC, as well as hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. “We have to stand up against (hate),” he urges. Today, he also notes, is César Chávez Day. … On to Q/A: Asked if vaccine allocation needs to be moved around because of uneven demand by region, he says there’s only an “infinitesimal” number of wasted doses in the state – “doses are getting into arms.” … Asked about supply to match the increase in eligibility, the governor says yes, supplies are increasing … He was also asked about the national report of 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine lost to some kind of factory mistake, but didn’t think that would affect our state much … He also says the state is in the “top third” nationwide in terms of “efficiency” in getting vaccine administered.
4:30 PM: So how long will it take, at current supply levels, to get everyone vaccinated? Dr. Shah reiterates that supplies are continuing to increase – though after a 400,000+-dose week this week it’s going back down under 400,000, pending future increases – they can’t make a specific prediction, as it could change further. … The briefing ends at 4:34 pm; the archived video should be available in the same window above shortly. Here, meantime, is the news release about the eligibility-expansion announcement.