Washington moving to Phase 1B of vaccine rollout plan, will now include anyone 65 and older

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington State will immediately move to Phase 1B of its coronavirus vaccine rollout plan, which has been expanded to include anyone ages 65 and older.

Governor Jay Inslee announced the changes Monday, noting that 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths in Washington have occurred among people over the age of 65.

“Our vaccine prioritization reflects the need to protect these individuals quickly,” Inslee said. “This makes it possible for more people in risk categories to access the vaccine now and aligns with the latest guidance from the CDC.”

Those who are eligible under Phase 1B – which also includes people over the age of 50 living in multigenerational homes – can find when and where they can get vaccinated in a few ways.

The first is through their primary care provider. Partners and providers have plans in place for patients and will either contact them electronically or by phone when vaccines are available.

Additionally, the state’s online PhaseFinder app will soon show locations of where the vaccine has been delivered, including clinics, hospitals and pharmacies. Patients will need to reach out to those providers about setting up appointments. Inslee said that 2,400 pharmacies have signed up with the intention to provide vaccines.

The state has also set a goal to administer 45,000 vaccinations each day. The goal is higher than the current vaccine allocation from the federal government, but Inslee said trying to meet this goal now will help get the infrastructure in place as doses increase.

Additionally, starting Monday, 95 percent of future vaccine allocations are required to be administered in the first week of receipt. Vaccines already sent to counties have to all be given out by January 24.

“There are simply too many people who need access to COVID vaccines for this process to lag any further,” Inslee said.

To assist with that goal, the state is setting up vaccination sites across the state, including one at the Spokane Arena. That site is expected to open next week. The National Guard and other resources will be called in to help.

Once about half of the people in Phase 1B Tier 1 receive their vaccines, the state will move on to the next tier of four.

In Tier 2, people eligible will be high-risk essential workers 50 and older. Essential workers include farmers, correctional officers, teachers, grocery store workers and more.

To date, the state has given out about 294,000 vaccines. That’s about 42 percent of the state’s vaccines.

According to the Spokane Regional Health District, its received 3,400 vaccines and will get another 1,900 this week. The district said 90% of its vaccines have been administered.

Inslee also announced a state “Vaccine Command and Coordination Center,” which will be led by the Department of Health and in partnership with business, health care and labor leaders. The team will coordinate available resources to administer more vaccines across the state and in the most efficient way possible.

The team includes the following:

  • Kaiser Permanente: Planning/delivery of mass vaccination
  • Starbucks: Vaccine to customer logistics and communications
  • Microsoft: Technology expertise and support
  • Costco: Vaccine delivery by pharmacies
  • SEIU1199NW: Coordination of volunteer vaccinators
  • UFCW 21: Staffing/training coordination
  • WSNA: Safety and health consultation

Inslee stressed that there are too many people who need access to the vaccine for the process to lag any further.

RELATED: Washington DOH outlines next phase of vaccine rollout plan

READ: Spokane Arena to be mass COVID-19 vaccination site