Protect the vulnerable, be patient when vaccine eligibility expands on April 15
State officials say the increased eligibility for COVID vaccines may not be immediately met with enough appointments. But they’re confident supply will soon match demand, and they want to people to be ready.
Starting April 15, anyone 16 or older can sign up. But Lacy Fehrenbach, the state’s deputy health secretary, says it’s not like Ticketmaster. The local providers who administer the shots will gradually ramp up.
“You know, it's not ‘Everything goes live at midnight.’ They're adding appointments throughout the week. So if you log in on Sunday and there are no appointments, log back in on Monday. It doesn’t mean the appointments are all booked forever,” she explains.
“Appointments get added by different providers in your community throughout the week in real time on the vaccine locator. That means if you want to, you can sleep in. Just figure out different times of the day and different days of the week to check the system.”
But the state wants people to remember that even some of the most vulnerable in our state still need appointments. In fact, more than a quarter of Washington residents ages 65 and older have not yet received any doses of COVID vaccines.
State Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah says he hopes people will keep in mind the groups that have previously had priority – and act accordingly.
“Look, if I'm a younger person, I don't have any health conditions. But I've got my aunt, she's older. She's got a couple of health conditions. And I'm trying to figure out if I'm going to get her vaccinated or if I'm going to do myself,” Shah says. “We're going to ask you to get your aunt vaccinated. I mean, these are the micro-decisions on the ground that we want people to help us with.”
Even with more and more people receiving the vaccine, COVID cases are on the rise in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, health officials report. They say that everyone needs to continue masking up and social distancing to avoid a fourth wave.
To find a vaccine for you or someone else, a good place to start is with the state’s vaccine locator at vaccinelocator.doh.wa.gov.