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Washington begins preparing for December arrival of COVID vaccine

A COVID vaccine could arrive in Washington by mid December. (Getty Images)

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that his office has begun the planning process needed to distribute an eventual COVID-19 vaccine.

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Inslee had a phone call with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday morning, “talking about the arrival of the vaccine, which appears relatively imminent.” The current estimate given to the governor indicates that the first shipments could be available in “mid-December.”

To that end, the Washington Department of Health is asking hospitals and physicians to sign up as providers for the vaccine as an “important” first step toward preparing for its arrival.

Inslee reported that the state has already seen “a lot” of enrollments as of Monday, “but we need a lot more providers” to sign up in the days ahead. Any provider that signs up by Dec. 6 could potentially be eligible to receive the first shipments of the vaccine.

“I continue to have a higher and higher degree of confidence in this whole process,” Inslee said during a Monday press conference. “We had a thorough rundown of the process this morning with the vice president, and I see nothing that causes me concern about the process that’s being followed.”

“That’s a really good sign,” he added.

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Despite that, the governor also warned that there will be “fairly limited” quantities in the first few weeks the vaccine is available. That will have providers prioritizing who receives it first, starting with frontline medical workers most at risk of contracting the virus, as well as elderly residents in long-term care facilities.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are awaiting final approval from the Food and Drug Administration to distribute their respective vaccines in the United States. Moderna’s vaccine was found to be approximately 94% effective in trials, while Pfizer boasted a 95% effectiveness rate.

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