Inslee announces new vaccine distribution plan to get shots in arms
— Created January 20, 2021 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Washington Governor Jay Inslee has announced an ambitious new effort to get as many citizens as possible, as quickly as possible, vaccinated against COVID-19. And he’s got a goal in mind – 45,000 vaccinations a day.
At a Monday afternoon press conference, Inslee laid out the new public-private venture being called the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, a statewide initiative which teams up government, corporations, labor unions and health care organizations to help facilitate vaccine distribution efforts.
“We are removing as many impediments as possible to Washingtonians getting vaccinated,” Inslee said. “We are going to deliver every dose that comes into our state. We will still be dependent on the federal government for doses, but we are doing everything we can once it gets here.”
“We are speeding up the process of getting vaccine to the people of Washington,” said Dr. Umair Shah, secretary of the Washington State Department of Health. “This is a huge undertaking – no one can do it alone. Together, with the measures Gov. Inslee and others have announced, we pledge to make the forward progress the people of Washington deserve to get COVID-19 under control and protect everyone with this life-saving vaccine.”
Some of the partners in the WSVCCC include Starbucks, Costco, Microsoft, Kaiser Permanente, SeaMar, Service Employees International Union 1199NW, United Food and Commercial Workers 21, Washington State Nurses Association and the National Guard. Under the plan, each stakeholder will focus on a different area of responsibility. For instance, Kaiser Permanente will share its expertise to aid in setting up mass vaccination clinics and distributing the vaccine to healthcare providers. Microsoft will lend its expertise in technology and support and Costco will assist in vaccine delivery by pharmacies. SEIU 1199NW and UFCW 21 will help with coordinating and training volunteer vaccinators and staffing vaccination centers..
“We come together to launch this true public and private partnership among Washington health care organizations and our state’s business community, to align and deliver the most effective and safe path to COVID-19 vaccination for all Washingtonians,” said Susan Mullaney, president of Kaiser Permanente Washington. “Our own health care expertise coupled with the leadership of our state, and the dedication and resources of the best and brightest our state has to offer, is what our community deserves and should expect of us.”
“Governor Inslee has convened some of the best public and private resources and capabilities to engage in a concerted effort to optimize and accelerate the vaccination process across our home state,” said Kevin Johnson, Starbucks president and CEO. “We are proud to contribute in every way we can to help operationalize and scale equitable access to the vaccine.”
It is a massive undertaking that Inslee hopes will put Washington in line to deliver 45,000 vaccinations per day when fully operational, more than tripling the 14,000 current daily vaccinations being administered. To help reach that goal, Inslee announced several changes to the state’s distribution phases, among other things.
Effective immediately, those 65 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine, instead of those aged 70 and older.
The governor has mandated providers must administer 95 percent of their vaccine allocations within a week of receiving them and all doses acquired before this week must be administered by Sunday. Providers must also submit data to the state within 24 hours of administration.
The state will establish several high-vaccination sites; four sites will be set up starting next week in Spokane, Kennewick, Wenatchee and Ridgefield. Other locations may follow.
“We are very excited that Gov. Inslee and these partners are coming together to leverage the best expertise available to us,” said Jane Hopkins, RN and executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “Getting vaccinations out and seeing our state through to the end of this pandemic is going to take all of us, and this command team is the model of what that can look like — Washington businesses and labor working together, hand-in-hand, for the greater good and bringing our best resources to bear.”
The DOH’s new Phase Finder tool is now operational. The tool will help residents determine whether they are eligible for a COVID vaccine. The online questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to complete and those currently not eligible to receive the vaccine can sign up to be notified when they become eligible. Find the tool at findyourphasewa.org. Those who do qualify to receive the vaccine will be directed to information on how to schedule an appointment with a provider in their area.
Currently on Whidbey Island, only WhidbeyHealth and Island Drug are approved vaccination providers. According to a press release Monday afternoon, Island County Public Health hopes to finalize details soon with two providers able to administer vaccines to Camano Island residents. ICPH is working with community partners to establish additional vaccination providers in Island County.