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Washington joins pact with western states to review approved COVID-19 vaccines

Gov. Jay Inslee provides an update on the state's response to COVID-19. (TVW)

Gov. Inslee announced Tuesday that Washington state has joined a pact with other western states to review the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines once approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Washington, Oregon, California, Colorado, and Nevada are the states included in the pact.

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This partnership provides an added layer of insurance and review to give the public greater faith and greater confidence in any vaccines, Inslee explained, so that more people actually get the vaccine once it’s made available.

Inslee added that this is imperative if we are going to beat this pandemic.

“We do have now and will have high confidence,” assuming that there is an approval.

If more than one vaccine is approved, which Inslee says is the hope, this panel of experts across the five states will review each one.

“We know how important this is,” he said.

The governor says that when a safe vaccine is available, Washington state is going to be ready to distribute it as safely and equitably as possible.

In terms of the rising cases nationwide, Inslee said there was “distressing news” out of the White House after the Chief of Staff indicated that they’ve basically “checked out of this fight” and are not going to try to further control the virus. Washington state, however, is not giving up the fight.

“The white flag of surrender to this virus is not flying over our state capital in Washington,” Inslee said.

Until there are available vaccines, Inslee reminded all Washingtonians to keep wearing masks, limiting their contact with others, and practicing social distancing to help save lives today, before there’s an available vaccine for COVID-19.

“We know we’ve had some increasing activity recently in our state — that means we need to keep being careful, and keep wearing masks,” he said.

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Both Gov. Inslee and State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy emphasized the importance of wearing masks even indoors, such as when you have a friend over. Inslee referred to private, indoor settings as the “new battleground,” commending state residents for wearing masks and taking precautions in public spaces, but adding how important it is to continue these practices indoors as well.

Opening windows and trying to improve the ventilation while riding in a car or sitting indoors is also helpful to limit the spread of the virus for any events that cannot be held outside.

Wearing a mask, Lofy says, is a simple intervention we can all take to prevent hundreds of deaths in the fall and winter months.

“We’ll be able to more this fall and winter if we do things safely,” she said.

“It’s kind of a cool thing that you can save somebody’s life in your own living room,” Inslee added.

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