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King County to set up high-volume vaccine distribution sites

A drive-thru COVID testing site. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

Executive Dow Constantine announced Friday that King County will be establishing high volume community vaccination sites.

View Washington’s COVID-19 vaccine phases

The hope is to have the sites be similar to existing high volume testing locations the county already employs, and to ensure “we hit the ground running as medical personnel receive their doses.”

The county will look to cut through some of the red tape that would typically present barriers to a plan like this, and will instead pay for the vaccine distribution sites straight out of its own budget.

“We are not waiting for all the usual negotiations and contracts, but we expect to be reimbursed by the state and federal government if we are to continue our robust public health response,” Constantine said.

Initially, the focus will be on getting sites set up in South King County, where COVID-19 cases are currently highest in the region, while residents grappled “distressing health disparities.”

On the current timeline, Seattle-King County Public Health expects the first sites to be up and running by Feb. 1.

This comes in the wake of Washington state health officials releasing information about the next phase of vaccine prioritization.

Gov. Inslee unveils ‘Healthy Washington,’ a regional reopening plan

The first phase that started in December includes high-risk health care workers in health care settings, high-risk first responders, long-term care facility residents, and recently expanded to all other workers in health care settings.

Michele Roberts, acting assistant secretary with the Washington State Department of Health, specified that Phase 1B will have multiple tiers, the first of which includes all people 70 years of older, and people 50 years or older in multigenerational households. Tier B2 includes high-risk critical workers 50 years or older who work in certain congregate settings: agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 teachers and school staff; child care; corrections; prison, jails, or detention centers; public transit; fire; law enforcement.

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