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Harborview doctor: Washington seeing ‘the tools that will allow us to end this pandemic’

Joseph B. Gipson, an environmental services worker, gives a thumbs up before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at the University Of Washington Medical Center on December 15, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

With the first COVID-19 vaccine doses in Washington administered to frontline medical workers on Tuesday, Harborview Medical Center’s Director of Infection Control Dr. John Lynch believes we’re looking at a truly historic moment in time that spells the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

Health officials provide details on how COVID vaccine will be handed out

UW Medicine has already received roughly 3,900 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, and will soon be widely distributing it to health care workers at Harborview, Valley Medical Center, and a pair of UW Medical Center campuses.

And while it will likely be months before enough people receive the vaccine to truly declare an end to the COVID crisis, Dr. Lynch is still encouraged by what he described as a “momentous” occasion on Tuesday.

“It is giving me an enormous amount of enthusiasm and optimism that we are truly seeing the tools that will allow us to end this pandemic,” he told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show.

Lynch feels “very confident” in the data and testing that went into approving vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, promising that there were “no shortcuts.”

“The important thing is all of the appropriate steps were taken and all the experts were involved,” he said.

Washington prepares for December arrival of COVID-19 vaccine

The first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use in the United States headed out Sunday from Michigan to distribution centers across the country. Washington state’s initial shipment has 62,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.

The state expects to receive over 470,000 total doses by the end of December, followed by weekly shipments from Pfizer and Moderna beginning in January.

The first round of vaccine doses will go to health care workers in high-risk environments, highest-risk first responders, and residents and staff in long-term care facilities. The DOH expects it will “take a number of weeks” to clear that initial phase of distribution. After that, it will go to all people over 65 years of age, and those with underlying medical conditions, followed by child care workers, law enforcement, agricultural workers, and those working in “critical infrastructure.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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