Health district releases draft of COVID vaccine plan

Health care workers and long-term care residents would be among first to receive early doses.

EVERETT — Up to 450,000 Washingtonians could receive COVID vaccines by February, according to a Snohomish Health District draft plan.

The federal government has told the state to anticipate receiving 200,000 doses from Pfizer by the end of December, with possibly more on the way from drug-maker Moderna, according to Michele Roberts, Washington’s acting assistant secretary of health, who briefed reporters Wednesday.

The good news comes as health experts continue to plead with Washingtonians to double down on safety measures and stay home for Thanksgiving, as hospitalizations from the coronavirus rise locally and statewide.

“Give thanks, not COVID. This isn’t forever. Just for now,” the health district said in a news release.

First doses of vaccines could arrive in the state as early as Dec. 14 or 15, state officials said Tuesday. Washington is expecting to get 62,400 doses in the initial batch, Roberts said.

On Wednesday, the health district released its blueprint for administering and distributing the initial allotment. It outlines who will get first access and identifies dozens of places where vaccinations will be provided, from hospitals and clinics to Costcos and Targets.

But it will take six to nine months for doses to be widely available in Snohomish County, according to the plan.

And people will need two doses, separated by three to four weeks, depending on the vaccine.

When the Pfizer vaccine is approved, a panel of scientists and health experts will conduct a separate review of its safety and efficacy at the request of Washington, California, Oregon and Nevada. The four states formed the panel in October.

The additional layer of independent review “should not cause any delay” in making initial doses available, Roberts said.

With limited supply, early doses in Snohomish County would go to health care workers who interact with COVID patients, hospital custodians, high-risk first responders like emergency medical technicians, law enforcement and corrections officers.

The first phase could also include all long-term care home staff and residents; people over the age of 65 with health conditions like hypertension, diabetes or heart disease; anyone with multiple health conditions; people living in congregate settings such as farm housing, prisons, group homes and homeless shelters; as well as agricultural and food processing workers.

The second wave of vaccines would include remaining health care workers, school teachers and staff, elected leaders, postal workers, bus drivers, plumbers, electricians and people who work in food supply, utilities, sanitation and waste management.

The third batch would make doses available for everyone else.

However, the county’s phases could change when the state Department of Health releases statewide priorities for vaccination.

Meanwhile, the health district announced two new testing sites, one in Lynnwood and another in Sultan, in addition to the Everett Memorial Stadium and Everett Community College locations.

Testing at the Lynnwood Food Bank, 5320 176th St. SW, will be open Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon.

The other location, at Sultan Elementary School, 501 Date St., will open next Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

To schedule an appointment, visit www.snohd.org/testing.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

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