PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Anyone over the age of 65 living in the state of Washington is now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. Jay Inslee announced during a press conference Monday.
The move marks a shift to Phase 1B tier 1 of the state’s vaccine plan. Anyone older than 50 years is also eligible for the vaccine if they are living in a multigenerational household.
“We want the capacity for vaccinations to actually get the shot to match or exceed the doses we are getting from the federal government,” Inslee said. “This means thousands of more Washingtonians can and will be protected.”
As of Monday morning, Washington has reported a total of 277,404 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 12,535 probable cases. Those cases have led to 16,558 hospitalizations and 3,903 deaths.
Inslee said the state is currently vaccinating 13,000-15,000 people per day. He has set a goal of vaccinating 45,000 people per day, or at least building capacity to do so.
Inslee also revealed a plan for mass vaccination clinics across the state to begin distribution next week. In Southwest Washington, the mass vaccination clinic will be at the Clark County Fairgrounds in Ridgefield.
Inslee also announced the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, a statewide public-private partnership to boost vaccine distribution efforts. The collaboration includes Washington corporations and health care groups. Washington companies like Starbucks and Microsoft are offering support and partnering with the state. Microsoft President Brad Smith was one of the people at the press conference.
“The goal is to make this in February one of the mass vaccination sites,” Smith said. “This is not going to be a site for Microsoft employees. This is going to be a site for people in the community.”
The state is also requiring that 95% of vaccine allocations must be administered in the first week.
“We have to do everything we can to make sure we are vaccinating as many Washingtonians as possible. A vaccine delivered into the arms of Washingtonians is better than being left on a shelf,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah.
Inslee summed it up succinctly.
“2021 is the year to get vaccinated in our state. We are going to mobilizing thousands of workers and resources to save people from this virus.”
On January 5, Inslee announced a roadmap for reopening the state based on regional data instead of county-to-county statistics.
Inslee said the “Healthy Washington” plan will move forward based on COVID-19 metrics gathered by the Washington Department of Health. Since the regional plan went into effect on Jan. 11, some live entertainment activities have been allowed to resume with very limited in-person gatherings as well as some fitness programs.