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Washington prioritizing larger counties for vaccine with doses still in short supply

Health care workers wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the University Of Washington Medical Center on Dec. 15, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The Washington State Department of Health reports that while its weekly vaccine allocation from the federal government is “gradually increasing,” it’s still short of what the state needs to fully ramp up its distribution efforts.

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Washington’s three-week forecast from the federal government is as follows:

  • Week of Feb. 21: 263,570 total doses (146,110 first doses, 117,460 second doses)
  • Week of Feb. 28: 269,270 total doses (146,110 first doses, 123,160 second doses)
  • Week of March 7: 292,220 total doses (146,110 first doses, 146,110 second doses)

Those are totals the DOH calls “encouraging,” even while those numbers are short of the over 436,000 weekly doses the state requested for the week of Feb. 21.

In order to make up for deficits in doses in the coming weeks, the state is warning residents that “some counties may get more vaccine than others.” That means counties with higher populations will be prioritized in order to reach the most eligible recipients.

“This statewide approach ensures everyone who is eligible has equal access to vaccine no matter where they live,” the DOH said in a written release. “Any vaccine that gets into our state helps protect us all by building community immunity.”

Washington to briefly divert focus toward second doses of vaccine

Efforts to distribute doses statewide were also further hampered this week by winter weather conditions across the United States. The result of those delays saw Washington state receive just 22,500 doses, with Moderna rendered unable to ship any of its vaccine doses to the state as of Thursday. Pfizer was unable to send shipments on Monday, “and only a limited number of vaccine shipments were processed Tuesday and Wednesday.”

The state has distributed over 1.2 million doses as of Feb. 15, and is handing out an average of over 26,000 doses a day.

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