Washington state extends COVID-19 vaccination eligibility

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state has extended COVID-19 vaccination eligibility on Wednesday to people in the next phase, including grocery store workers, transit workers and first responders, health officials said.

The Washington State Department of Health estimates 740,000 more residents will now be eligible, raising concerns among people who were already eligible residents but have not yet been inoculated, KOMO-TV reported Tuesday.

“We are worried about the thickness of traffic of some sites where the sties go into – a slow motion situation,” said Bonnie McGuire, a retired school principal turned volunteer.

She said the trick is to get online early to reserve a vaccination, even overnight, and to remember to keep refreshing the reservation page while waiting and navigating through it.

McGuire and 10 retired educators have booked about 900 appointments for senior citizens since Feb. 1.

She said the assistance effort began by helping one person and that it expanded through word of mouth. The group has booked appointments for senior citizens through grocery store pharmacies, clinics and medical centers.

Department of Health officials said this week the state was allotted about 300,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, or about 11,000 doses for a county like Snohomish County.

“That leaves another 150,000 people vying for those 11,000 doses this week so that means you have a 1 in 15 chance,” Snohomish County Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters said.

About 2.5 million doses have been administered in the state so far — with 1.3 million people receiving the first shot and 250,000 fully vaccinated, health officials said.

“It is survival of the fastest,” McGuire said. “Who can type the quickest? Who knows the shortcuts? Certain things you don’t have to do.”

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