A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing

State health leader: We have a plan, we don’t have the supply

Two months after the COVID vaccine landed in Washington, many still struggle to secure their shots.

It’s been 10 weeks since the COVID-19 vaccine landed in Washington.

In that time, 1.4 million shots have been administered statewide. But for so many, the last month has meant spending hour after hour online, or on hold, trying to get an appointment.

“That makes it very frustrating for the individual,” state Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said. “It makes it very confusing. It can make people angry, and it appears like, ‘Oh gosh, there isn’t a plan.’ It’s not that there isn’t a plan, there isn’t a supply.”

The struggle in securing the vaccine is especially difficult for some of the county’s oldest residents, who are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

They’re competing with younger people, who often have an easier time scouring multiple provider websites to find an open appointment. And some worry they’ll be left behind.

A month after entering Phase 1B1, the Department of Health is working on ways to improve the appointment scheduling process, while also trying to increase equity in who gets the limited supply.

Statewide, the Department of Health, Microsoft and others are partnering to build a website that has access to appointments from every vaccine provider, though it’s unclear when that could debut.

But even with new improved scheduling, it will still be difficult to get your shot, as long as supply remains an issue, Shah said.

The state’s three-week vaccine forecast shows nearly 300,000 doses coming to Washington the week of March 7.

Earlier this month, the state was only getting about half of that.

Meanwhile, a one-shot vaccine from Johnson & Johnson could receive emergency federal approval by the end of the month.

In preparation of more doses, the state has increased vaccination capacity — with providers capable to inject more than 45,000 shots a day.

While governments and providers are under pressure to speed up the process, they must also find ways to address the inequities preventing the most vulnerable from securing the potentially lifesaving shot.

“That’s what makes it really hard,” Shah said. “We want to do everything we can to remove barriers.”

Statewide, Black and Hispanic Washingtonians have been getting vaccinated at lesser rates than other racial and ethnic groups, despite being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, data from the state Department of Health shows.

That’s partially because of racial and ethnic disparities in the health care industry, Shah said, given that health care workers were among the first to get vaccinated, and make up a large portion of people who have already received both doses.

Still, there’s more work to be done, he said.

Additionally, all demographic data is self-reported. About 1 in 10 vaccine recipients decline to provide that information.

To address the inequities, Gov. Jay Inslee and other officials have announced a $30 million plan to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to under-served and minority populations.

The effort, run by the All In WA Group, will enlist trusted, community-based organizations that can perform outreach and administer mobile and pop-up vaccine clinics.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Jackie Hoernor, a resident at South Pointe Assisted Living, winces as she gets her Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination during a Walgreen’s Vaccine Clinic at South Pointe on Feb. 12 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Jackie Hoernor, a resident at South Pointe Assisted Living, winces as she gets her Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination during a Walgreen’s Vaccine Clinic at South Pointe on Feb. 12 in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

[flipp]

More in News

In Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s reopening plan, which was announced Jan. 28, restaurants can reopen at a maximum 25% capacity and a limit of six people per table. Inslee recently announced all counties will be staying in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan for the next several weeks. Pictured: People enjoy outdoor dining last summer in downtown Kent. Courtesy photo
Inslee: All of Washington to stay in Phase 2 for a few weeks

The governor issued a weekslong pause on regions moving backward, but has yet to outline a Phase 3.

t
Mercer Island police’s top gun retires

Sgt. Noel worked for 30 years on the Island.

Entrance to the Tukwila Library branch of the King County Library System. File photo
King County libraries will reopen in some cities for in-person services

Fall City, Kent libraries among six selected for partial reopening.

t
Islanders to kick off prep sports competitions in March

Let the games begin. After a lengthy wait during the pandemic, Mercer… Continue reading

In a zipper merge, cars continue in their lanes and then take turns at the point where the lanes meet. (Koenb via Wikimedia Commons)
Do Washington drivers need to learn the zipper merge?

Legislators propose requiring zipper merge instruction in drivers education and in license test.

t
White will speak at Rotary meeting on March 9

Rick White, senior manager of state and local government operations for The… Continue reading

t
Local pop-up blood drive set for March

Herzl-Ner Tamid, in partnership with Stroum Jewish Community Center, is providing an… Continue reading

t
Soderberg spreads hope one rock at a time

Island resident does her own form of yard work.

t
Band, choir and orchestra students receive All-Northwest, All-State honors

Thirty-six Mercer Island High School and Islander Middle School band, choir and… Continue reading

Most Read