Wash. state health officials optimistic about vaccine distribution plan


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington state recently unveiled its plan for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine with the hopes it will only continue to improve.

Health officials said the priority is to get the vaccine to those who need it most. The first round is called 1A which includes healthcare workers, first responders who are at high risk and long term care residents.

Phase 1B, the next phase, has four tiers which begins with people over the age of 70 and those over the age of 50 who live in multigenerational households. After that, high risk critical workers who are 50 years are older who work on congregate settings like agriculture, grocery store workers and K-12 teachers. Then, those over the age of 16 with two or more underlying health conditions will be eligible.

Washington’s planned COVID-19 vaccination phases (Washington State Department of Health)

Washington state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said 1B is not quite ready yet as regional hospitals have reported still being in the first phase.

“While we are not ready to move on to phase 1B, the framework will help healthcare providers, communities and people who will be eligible for the vaccine to plan ahead,” Dr. Shah said. “As of this morning, we have received 522,550 doses of vaccine that have already delivered to Washington.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of Health Michele Roberts said she understands the frustration with delays, but thinks the route in place will prevail.

“These are really tough decision we wish there was vaccine right away for all,” said Roberts. “We created these phases to make sure we are distributing vaccines in an equitable way to protect those in our state who are most at risk.”

On Tuesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a new roadmap for reopening the state based on regional data instead of county-to-county statistics. “Healthy Washington” will move forward based on COVID-19 metrics gathered by the health department. The governor said the regional plan will go into effect on Jan. 11. On that date, some live entertainment activities will be allowed to resume with very limited in-person gatherings as well as some fitness programs.

For more on Washington’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, visit the state’s Department of Health page.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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