Vaccine eligibility opens up for Washingtonians while health experts worry about fourth surge

On Thursday, around 1.5 million Washingtonians will be eligible for the first time for a COVID-19 vaccine.

During Wednesday’s Department of Health briefing, state leaders were asked if vaccines could be the answer to the fourth surge that they are so worried about. But no clear answer on that was given considering there is no exact timeline of vaccine shipments.

It took 4 months to fully vaccinate around 1.7 million people, that’s nearly 23 percent of Washington’s population.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine info: Where to get vaccinated in Washington state

On Thursday at Gene Coulon Park in Renton, many were out taking in the sun.

 "Spending time at home makes people depressed emotionally," Zan Ramazanov said

Ramazanov,a  26-year-old Renton resident was hanging with out-of-state friends visiting for the first time since the pandemic started.

"Friends visiting from Boston we try to socially distance from people," Ramazanov said.

Right now around 5 million Washingtonians are eligible for the vaccine, starting Thursday with another approximately 1.5 million people added to the pool, millions of people will be vying for an open appointment. Some in the new group eligible for the vaccine said they are excited for different reasons.

RELATED: Online COVID-19 vaccine locators prepare for influx in users once eligibility opens to all adults April 15

"I’m pretty excited because of the fact that my cousin is having her baby," Stephanie Niesen said.

Although there is COVID fatigue, Niesen and her boyfriend Ricardo Ricario said they are still often rejecting invitations to social events.

"You never know, not everyone is vaccinated you don’t know who comes in contact with," Ricario said.

Ricario said he is being careful so he can protect his mom and sister who also needs to be vaccinated.

RELATED: All Washingtonians over age 16 will be eligible for COVID vaccine starting April 15

With young people fueling COVID-19 cases, state health leaders are pleading with the public.

"There is a big concern this is a fourth wave people need to distance themselves," Dr. Scott Lindquist said.

DOH said behavior is our only immediate solution to stopping a fourth surge.

"Our state allocations have unfortunately gone down recently, 365,000 over the next 3 weeks," Michele Roberts with DOH said.

People like Lindsey Bretz is expecting it to be hard to find an open vaccine slot.

"I know my husband had to look for a while," Bretz said.

But she will stay motivated not just for herself but also to protect her newborn baby.

Dr. Lindquist said 70 percent to 80 percent of Washingtonians will have to form immunity to COVID to get to herd immunity.

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