Gov. Inslee: COVID vaccine eligibility to expand in March, April as supply increases
Based on Washington state’s current trajectory, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that it’s expected the state will move to an expanded Phase 1B, tier 2, before the end of March. On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that pre-K-12 educators, school staff, and licensed child care workers are now included in the state’s current vaccine tier.
The move forward to an updated Phase 1B, tier 2 — tentatively set for March 22 — will only happen if supply of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to increase.
Eligible in the second tier of Phase 1B are now critical workers who work in certain congregate settings, including workers in agriculture, food processing, grocery stores, public transit, fire fighters, law enforcement, as well as workers in corrections, prisons, jails, or detention centers. There will be no age distinction required for this tier, which essentially means that Phase 1B-2 will include all the critical workers who were previously in phases 1B-2 and 1B-4.
“Being available to expand to this next tranche of people is really great, in my view,” Inslee said.
The state is also expanding the eligible list for Phase 1B, tier 2, to include people 16 years of age or older who are pregnant or have a disability that puts them at high-risk.
Looking further ahead, Gov. Inslee shared that the state expects to make additional individuals eligible for the vaccine by mid-April. By April 12, people who are 50 years and older who have two or more comorbidities — certain underlying conditions, like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes — will be eligible. Those conditions could make someone more vulnerable to severe complications from COVID-19.
On April 26, the eligibility could expand to include people who are 16 or older with two or more comorbidities.
That same day, April 26, it’s hoped that people living in congregate settings will also become eligible. This includes people living in correctional facilities, group homes for people with disabilities, and people experiencing homelessness that live or access services in congregate settings.
Gov. Inslee did add that these dates are tentative and will depend on both supply and the state’s progress in vaccinating earlier groups.
“But I have to tell you, I am thrilled at the progress our federal government is making in combination with these manufacturers to increase supplies,” Inslee said.
Information on who is eligible in future phases is not yet available, nor are any expected dates on when those next phases would be set to begin.
“As we’re advancing to this next level in the next few weeks, we are not leaving anyone behind. If you are already eligible for vaccine, you remain eligible for vaccine,” clarified Dr. Umair Shah, the state’s secretary of health.
Dr. Shah also asked for patience from the community, as while it may be your turn to be vaccinated soon, you may not be able to get an appointment immediately.
“We will get there, and we’re going to get there together,” Shah said.
President Joe Biden did express earlier this week that the U.S. expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccines for all adult Americans by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated.