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DOH promises to administer vaccine faster, blames inconsistent flow of doses

A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine rests on a table at UC Davis Health on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, Pool)

The Washington State Department of Health is promising to get the COVID-19 vaccine into people’s arms faster.

Out of 625,000 doses received, only about a third have been administered. But, the state’s Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah says that doesn’t mean those other two-thirds are forgotten.

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“The vast majority of the vaccine is actually somewhere in the system — whether it’s on the shelf of a provider, whether it’s ready to be given in a room of a provider,” Shah said.

He admits there have been problems with the vaccine rollout in Washington state, and across the country. He knows his job is to overcome those challenges and he’s working on solutions.

“One of those changes is an accelerated timeline for moving even to our next group — the Phase 1B — which we expect to do in the next coming days,” he said.

Shah says the big issue is that the federal government has not been consistent in sending doses.

“If your car can go fast, but you have a speed limit, you can’t go faster,” Shah said. “Our speed limit is the number of vaccines on a consistent basis coming into the state.”

Phase 1B, tier one, expands those eligible for the vaccine to everyone older than 70, as well as everyone over 50 years old living in a multi-generational household.

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