OLYMPIA, Wash. (KOIN) — Washington state is opening up COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents age 16 and older starting on April 15.
The federal government had directed states to make all adults eligible for COVID-19 vaccination by May 1, but most states had earlier plans, with more than a dozen opening eligibility to all adults this week.
Gov. Jay Inslee had previously resisted expanding eligibility too quickly, saying that he wanted to ensure those most at risk were vaccinated first and noting that eligibility didn’t guarantee vaccination right away and would depend on supply.
But he said Wednesday that the federal government’s assurances of increased allocations, plus concerns about rising cases in many parts of the state, led to the decision to open up eligibility sooner.
Last week, Inslee said schools in the state will follow the new CDC guidelines allowing only three feet of distance between students instead of six, with masks.
“We feel good that this is going to get more students back into classrooms in the days to come,” Inslee said.
The CDC said 6 feet of distance should still be maintained in common areas, such as school lobbies, and when masks can’t be worn, such as when eating.
Also, students should continue to be spaced 6 feet apart in situations where there are a lot of people talking, cheering or singing, all of which can spread droplets containing the coronavirus. That includes chorus practice, assemblies and sports events.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.