COVID-19 vaccine update

Dow Constantine,
King County Executive

A message from King County Executive Dow Constantine

King County is working hard to rapidly vaccinate the 1.8 million adults who live in our region, starting with those at highest risk, with a goal of reaching 70%, or 1.26 million people, by the end of summer.

Under the state guidelines, the following populations are eligible for vaccination:

Phase 1a

  • Tier 1: Long-term care facility residents and staff
  • Tier 2: All other workers at risk in health care settings, including home care and home health

Phase 1b

  • Tier 1: All people 65 years and older and people 50 years and older living in multigenerational households.

In total, an estimated 473,000 King County residents are currently eligible, and at least 160,000 of them have received their first dose. The biggest constraint remains short supply from the manufacturers and the federal government. This week, King County providers are expected to receive only 22,250 first doses – compared to 38,325 last week.

Reasonably enough, everyone wants the vaccine very quickly and everyone is frustrated by the lack of available vaccines. Please know that we are standing up the capacity, beyond the health care system, to be able to quickly get the vaccine to those who are eligible when doses become available. With every dose that arrives in the county today, Public Health – Seattle & King County seeks to ensure the quickest and most appropriate use of it. In the short term, unfortunately, there is just not enough supply to meet demand.

If you are eligible for a vaccination, I encourage you to take the following steps:

  • Go to Washington State’s Phase Finder online tool to confirm your eligibility.  
  • If you have a health care provider, visit their website or call to see if they have available vaccination appointments.
  • If you don’t have a provider or if your provider doesn’t have the vaccine available, the state’s website will provide you with a list of possible vaccination locations.
  • If you can’t use Phase Finder and have no one to assist you, you can get help over the phone from Washington state’s COVID-19 Assistance Hotline: Dial 1-800-525-0127, then press #. The hotline is availableMonday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and observed state holidays 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Despite the constraints, the County has made significant progress. Nearly 60 percent of the county’s licensed health care workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 immunization. King County both receives doses directly from the state and coordinates doses coming from the state to other health care providers throughout the county. Eighty-three percent of the shots that have been allocated directly to Public Health – Seattle & King County have already gotten into the arms of eligible individuals. These doses have gone to health care workers and many of our front-line county workers like those staffing isolation and quarantine facilities.

King County government will be opening its first high volume vaccination site next week with an additional one opening shortly after. These will be located in South King County where the disease burden is highest. Additionally, we have seven mobile vaccination teams in the field providing doses to high-risk seniors. These efforts will grow with the vaccine supply, in partnership with many business and health care providers across the county. You can read King County’s Unified Regional Strategy COVID Vaccine Delivery and stay up to date with weekly strategy updates.

While the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic, the latest estimates suggest it will take until the end of the summer to vaccinate 70 percent of our adult population. It is critical that everyone continues to be vigilant: stay home when sick, wear a mask, and stick with people who live in your household if you are able. Working together, King County has achieved one of the lowest rates of infection of COVID-19 for urban counties in the U.S.  

We are working diligently to prepare for the day, not too far from now, when vaccine supplies become available for all our front-line workers. Your work has been and is critical in keeping our community functioning during the pandemic, and we will spare no effort to swiftly provide vaccination opportunities to eligible employees as soon as doses are received. In the meantime, please know that we are working hard to protect the most vulnerable throughout our community as we await promised progress from pharmaceutical companies and the federal government.