Vaccinations - official and unofficial information

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


By Diane Hettrick

Following is the official press release from the Department of Health.

However, here's what I'm hearing from individuals. The website to verify your eligibility (phase finder) is crashing and malfunctioning. We live in a tech-rich state - give it a few days and they'll get it fixed.

The governor has just moved the eligibility age to 65 from 70.

The over -50 multigenerational eligibility is aimed at families where the oldest members are not known to any medical facility. This is where the Phase Finder will be very useful.

People who are calling doctors, clinics, offices to make an appointment for a vaccine are being told that appointments are not being made now.

They will call you. The only person I know who got a vaccine today was called by the hospital, made an appointment over the phone and went in for the shot.

If you have received an email or a letter from a medical provider, hospital system, or pharmacy you use, that means you are on someone's list. You might have thrown it away thinking it was junk mail. My husband got a letter from PacMed that was an entire page long and it basically said - we don't have the vaccine now but when we do, we'll call you.

Here's the communication from the DOH, slightly edited.

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced today that we are moving into Phase 1B tier 1, expanding access to COVID-19 vaccine to thousands more people per week. As of January 16, we’d given almost 294,386 doses of vaccine. That’s 42.3% of the 696,075 total doses of vaccine that have been delivered to Washington state. Last week, we were giving an average of 14,300 vaccines per day. With the actions announced today, we will make forward progress that we need on vaccines.

We are focusing on expanding the phases and providing more flexibility for providers giving out the vaccine. Our goal is to vaccinate 45,000 people a day, but since we do not have that amount of vaccine coming into our state just yet, in the meantime we are not waiting, but instead building our capacity. 

This depends on the close coordination of the state with our local partners including health departments, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics and providers – everyone who works together to get that lifesaving dose to you.


Phase changes
  • We’re changing the age restrictions from 70 and older – to 65 and older. This change means that now people 65 and older will be able to get a vaccine. This will align with the federal government announcement last week.
  • We will not be changing 1B tier 3 to just one underlying condition.
  • The state will allow providers flexibility for Phase 1B tier 2 through tier 4 eligible individuals to allow for easier administration of the vaccine in congregate settings and workplaces to help increase the throughput. For example, if a school district arranged for a clinic for phase B2-B4, all eligible workers could be vaccinated at the same time. 
  • Our hope is to get to phase 1B tiers 2, 3 and 4 in late winter or early spring. We’re going to get through 50% of tier 1 before we add in anyone else.

Phase Finder
If you want to know what phase you’re in, find your spot in line with Phase Finder. 

Here’s how it works:
  • Go to FindYourPhaseWA.org and fill out the questionnaire.
  • If you’re eligible, you will get a confirmation.
  • Phase Finder will show you locations where you can get the vaccine.
  • Call and schedule your appointment.
  • Take your Eligibility Confirmation (printed or a screenshot) with you.
  • If you aren’t eligible for the vaccine yet, you’ll be able to sign up to get an email or text alert when you are.

Multigenerational households

One of the things that we’re not changing is prioritizing people in multi-generational households. One of the strongest themes we have heard from communities is the unique risk that exists for older adults and elders in multigenerational households. 

We recognize that many people who live in these households may live with an essential worker who is bringing potential work exposure home. 

We also know that our BIPOC, refugee and immigrant communities are more likely to live in multi-generational households, are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and older adults in these communities are less likely to be reached in long term care facilities.

Prioritizing older adults and elders in these households is our way of ensuring protection for these high-risk individuals who weren't reached through long term care facilities in Phase 1A.

For clarity, a multigenerational household is a home where individuals from 2 or more generations reside – such as an elder or grandchild.

Here’s an example of someone in a multigenerational household who is eligible: Think of a person over 50 who cannot live independently and receives long-term care from a caregiver, lives with someone who works outside the home, or lives with and cares for a grandchild.

Waste

With all this talk about prioritization, we also want to emphasize: Waste is the last thing we want. We don’t want any provider to think they should throw it in the trash instead of giving it to someone. These have to get to the people of Washington and they have to get out now. If there are extra vaccine doses that are at risk of going to waste, providers may give them to the next right person. Moving into Phase 1B represents a big step forward – but we must be vigilant in preventing waste whenever and wherever we can.

Next steps

The vaccine rollout plan is expansive, and the governor’s office is announcing even more exciting changes. You can read about them here.

If you have questions, you can get help over the phone from State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Phone interpretation is available.




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