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Vaccine roll-out struggles to keep up with demands

Isabella Anderson Staff Reporter Mar 04, 2021

While Washington is slowly getting its residents vaccinated, there are still not enough and week-to-week distributions vary, said one King County official. 

Vaccines for COVID-19 in King County have been in phase 1B1 since mid-January, which is the second phase of the state’s six-phase plan.

In this phase, everyone 65 years or older, and everyone 50 years old or older in a multigenerational home are now greenlit for receiving a vaccine. 

Phase 1A included high-risk health care workers, long-term care and facility residents, and other workers at risk in health care settings. 

The trouble now is getting vaccines to everyone who qualifies for these phases.

“As far as vaccines are going, what’s important to know is that the supply has really been the core issue,” said Sharon Bogan, communications manager for King County Public Health. “The lack of supplies, I should say.”

As of Feb. 22, King County residents have been administered a total of 576,674 vaccine doses. Of those, 369,259 have only had their first dose, and 207,315 residents are fully vaccinated with both doses. 

“Washington state has been receiving less than 1/3 of the doses [needed], Bogan said. “Once people get the first dose, they need the second dose. Once more people get vaccinated, there’s an increasing need for second doses. … Not just for KC, across the state as well.”

And though recommended amounts needed are sent up to state officials, the needs aren’t always met. 

“We provide the state recommendations and what our allocation would be, but some of those decisions would be made at a state level,” Bogan said. Every week there are more people getting vaccinated, but … we expected to see 73,000 this week, but we got 43,000 doses. We get different amounts every week.” 

But keeping our eyes on the overarching goal of vaccinating the majority of the state, and staying hopeful is important too, she said. 

“We are going to get more and more residents vaccinated to come in the days ahead,” Bogan said. “It’s important to remember that from the beginning we knew that it was going to be a long process. It’s definitely going to take time.

“It’s definitely frustrating to not have access to vaccines at the pace that we hoped for,” she said.

Distributing the correct amounts across the state has been another issue.

“Across Washington state, there’s been an issue – given that it has to be distributed across the state to different counties, in different methods, to different health care [areas],” Bogan said.

And while there is an end in sight, we need to keep safety practices a priority. 

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s a long tunnel,” she said. “Until then, we need to be really diligent with our prevention practices. Making sure there’s really good ventilation, having things outdoors, wearing [good] masks.”

For more information about vaccines and vaccination sites, COVID-19, or to check which phase you fall under, visit https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/health/covid-19.aspx