SEATTLE - The Washington State Department of Health approved the city of Seattle to be a coronavirus vaccine distributor, a step that was necessary for the city to be able to set up its own system for vaccinating people.
The Seattle Fire Department will be launching two mobile vaccination teams for the effort, and distribution could start as early as this Thursday. The Seattle Fire Department EMTs and emergency responders were authorized to administer these vaccines last week.
This vaccine rollout impacts those who are residents and workers of adult family homes, and providers, who are not being served by federal programs. The city is starting off with licensed facilities.
"With enough supply and with our two mobile teams, we think within two weeks' time, we can provide every adult family home in Seattle, not served by the federal government, with a COVID vaccination. With enough supply, by the end of February, we will have administered both doses to nearly 1,000 vulnerable health care workers, older adults, and people with disabilities in these adult-family homes," she continued.
In King County, around 1.3 million adults will need some kind of immunity for things to get back to normal, Durkan said. That number translates to about 70% of the population, a number that national healthcare experts are using.
The city has identified 100 adult homes that will get the vaccinations first. Between the two mobile sites, Seattle fire hopes to vaccinate 100 people a day.
There will be no cost for these vaccines.
Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said the city expects to have all these homes vaccinated with the first dose by Jan. 24.
"We are working with our partners at UW Medicine, Public Health Seattle-King Co and the Washington Department of Health to get as much vaccine as we can for this pilot until we have a regular supply," said Scoggins.
"We know that to bend the curve truly, to get to a place where we can get back to a semblance of normality, we have to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We have to get those shots out of refrigerators and into people's arms," said Durkan.
The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. has climbed to nearly 375,000 people, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. More 22.4 million infections have been confirmed nationwide.
The number of COVID-19 cases was expected to soar this month after end-of-year holiday gatherings and a growing number of people contracting a new, more contagious variant.