Submitted by Lewis County Public Health & Social Services
As COVID-19 vaccines begin to reach high-risk healthcare workers and others in the initial phase, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is evaluating early vaccine distribution and planning for additional phases.
An estimated 450,000 people in Washington meet DOH’s Phase 1a eligibility to receive the vaccine in this first wave. These are healthcare workers and nursing home residents and staff. With two doses needed per person, 900,000 doses will be required to complete Phase 1a. To date, fewer than 200,000 doses have been received.
Many factors go into deciding which populations to include and when to move to the next phase on a statewide level. These factors can either help or complicate efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible within a reasonable amount of time. Some of these factors are:
· How is vaccination of those in the current phase going?
· How are priority groups defined?
· How many people are estimated to be in any given priority group?
· How many of them will choose to be vaccinated?
· How much vaccine is and will be available?
· How many vaccine provider sites are available, and how many people can they vaccinate?
· If not enough vaccine or provider sites are available, how are groups and people prioritized within a phase?
· Are there local outbreaks that can alter vaccine distribution across the entire state?
DOH estimates Phase 1b guidance will be published in early January, while Phase 1a vaccinations are expected to continue at least through the end of January. If enough vaccine and provider capacity are available, Phase 1b group vaccinations may begin with first doses before all Phase 1a second doses are completed.
Lewis County Public Health & Social Services (LCPHSS) has been coordinating Phase 1a vaccinations by connecting identified groups with currently approved vaccine providers such as Providence Health and Valley View Health Center.
LCPHSS Director J.P. Anderson said, “Our department respects the expertise leading the DOH phased approach. We appreciate having their guidance to follow to ensure maximum and timely vaccine benefit to Lewis County residents. We are also grateful for the numerous local medical providers who are doing everything they can to support vaccination efforts in Lewis County.”