First doses of vaccine arrive in King County

It’s a remarkable milestone that the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are on the ground in our community. Public Health – Seattle & King County is one of several healthcare providers receiving limited quantities of COVID-19 vaccine this week. Hospital systems in King County will receive approximately 17,000 doses of vaccine in this first distribution, with Public Health scheduled to receive 3,900 doses.

Across the state, the vaccine will be offered to workers in high-risk healthcare settings and residents and staff in long-term care facilities. In addition to offering vaccine to staff at healthcare facilities, hospital partners are making vaccine available to high risk workers in other healthcare settings who meet the Phase 1a criteria by the State Department of Health.

For the initial doses received by Public Health – Seattle & King County, we will offer vaccine to paramedics and emergency medical technicians who can then be deployed to vaccinate others. In addition, we’ll begin to offer vaccine to long term care staff whose organizations are not registered for vaccine through a federal pharmacy program. Doses in the initial allocation will also be offered to Public Health and King County staff who are serving in very high risk settings such as those who work at the COVID-19 testing and isolation and quarantine sites.

We know the initial allocation of doses will be far fewer than the total numbers of people who are within this first group eligible for vaccine. Public Health’s initial allocation will be focused on distribution to the eligible groups in south King County to address areas of the county with highest burdens of disease and less access to other health systems currently receiving vaccine.

“In this initial phase, our focus is on offering emergency medical personnel, front line workers in healthcare, and caregivers in long term care facilities the vaccine as they continue to provide critical, life-saving support every day,” said Patty Hayes, Director, Public Health – Seattle & King County. “As more vaccine becomes available, Public Health will be working to help ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for communities who have barriers to receiving vaccine through healthcare providers or pharmacies.”

Washington State Department of Health is the lead agency for vaccine allocation and distribution across the state. Public Health – Seattle & King County’s role is to identify gaps in vaccine access during each phase of vaccine eligibility, work with DOH on allocation, and to ensure that people in eligible groups can get vaccinated. This will include working with partners to develop plans to reach priority populations, particularly offering vaccine clinics for safety net populations and caregivers as well as providing tailored public information to the community.

“When more vaccine becomes available, we anticipate that people will be able to get vaccinated at their doctor’s offices or clinics, at pharmacies, and at vaccination events that Public Health will be planning in the months to come,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County. “It will be months before everyone who may want it can get the vaccine, so it’s critical to continue with the all the core COVID-19 safety precautions like wearing masks, limiting travel and activities outside the home, and continuing social distancing for now.”

For more information, including FAQs please visit Public Health’s COVID-19 vaccine information page.

More COVID-19 vaccine information from CDC

For tips for staying safe during the winter months, visit Reducing Coronavirus Risk As We Spend More Time Indoors For Fall and Winter.

Information from Washington State DOH on safer gatherings

Originally posted 12/16/20