Updates on COVID-19 vaccines

by Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer

Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer,
King County Executive Office

Marking one year

This week marks one year since the first cases of COVID-19 were identified in King County. I want to acknowledge what a challenging, stressful, and exhausting year this has been. The COVID-19 pandemic together with the public health crisis of racism have had—and continue to have—a profound impact on you, your families, and our community.   

I am grateful for the many ways you have taken care of yourself and of one another during this past year. Together, our sustained strength, courage, and resilience has enabled us to provide exceptional service to the people of King County. Together, we’re helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community and we look forward to brighter days ahead.   

COVID-19 cases has been on a downward trend in King County, but over the past week, that has flattened out. The virus is still spreading in our community and we are under the threat from more contagious new variants. It remains more important than ever to continue to wear masks, stay at least six feet apart, and avoid gatherings with people you don’t live with. Complacency now would be a major mistake. 

COVID-19 vaccine update 

King County continues to work closely with our state colleagues as well as partners in the community and at all levels of government to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are distributed quickly, safely, and equitably in King County and across the state. We are heartened by the recent approval of the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which joins Pfizer and Moderna as authorized vaccines.  

This is exciting news, but I know that you may have questions and concerns about vaccines. King County is committed to sharing trusted information about COVID-19 vaccines with you. All COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States have been shown to be highly effective at preventing COVID-19, and have been studied in clinical trials with large and diverse groups of people, of various ages, races, and ethnicities.  

Vaccine supply is still low right now, so those of you who are currently eligible to be vaccinated may still experience frustrating delays. Please know that this will improve over time as vaccine supply increases.   

Certain groups of higher risk King County employees are expected to become eligible for vaccination in upcoming phases. Washington State sets the priorities, which you can learn more about here. We are committed to helping eligible employees understand their options for how to access the vaccine when their turn comes. This includes actively working to facilitate access for front-line employees who would become eligible under Phase 1B Tiers 2 and 4 as defined by the state, due to the nature of their work at King County. 

Now is a good time to learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and get your questions answered so you’re prepared when it’s your turn to get vaccinated:   

  • www.kingcounty.gov/covid/vaccine can help you understand when and where to get the vaccine. You’ll also find FAQs about the vaccine 
  • FindYourPhaseWA.org - Washington State’s Phase Finder online tool can confirm your eligibility and provide you with a list of possible vaccination locations 
  • www.preventcovidwa.org can help you learn more about COVID-19 vaccines and the science behind them, and to separate myth from fact. 

Regardless of where you get a COVID-19 vaccination — the doctor’s office, a pharmacy, a community event, or other location — you should not have to pay anything. Checking with your health care provider is the best place to start, but if they do not have vaccine availability you should check other vaccine locations.  

If you are covered under a King County employee health plan, you may be asked to provide your Regence BlueShield, CVS, or Kaiser Permanente insurance card. And remember, getting vaccinated is an eligible use of sick leave.  

We all want to get back to our lives and vaccinations can help us get back to many of the things we miss most and keep all of us as healthy and safe as possible.  

I will continue to share more information over the coming weeks and months as we work to end this pandemic.