State doesn’t think April 15 eligibility will create unmanageable backup

Apr 2, 2021, 5:08 AM | Updated: 6:31 am
COVID vaccine, UW Medicine, April 15...
Seattle Fire Department paramedic Alan Goto, right, receives one of the first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccinations. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Health leaders in Washington don’t expect the COVID-19 vaccine scheduling system to be overwhelmed when all adults are eligible on April 15.

State Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah said during a briefing Thursday that they’ve been preparing for months with federal and local partners, and should be ready to handle the increase in vaccine appointments.

Lacy Fehrenbach, deputy secretary for the state’s COVID response, noted that unlike a concert going on sale on a certain date, where everyone needs to get a ticket at the same time, not every would-be vaccine recipient needs to get an appointment the first day; more and more vaccine slots will open up by providers each day and each week.

“It’s not, ‘Everything goes live at midnight,'” she said. “They’re adding appointments throughout the week.”

WA blood shortages running low due to vaccine misconceptions

She suggested that if you don’t see an appointment the first time you look, try checking again the next day, or the day after.

Michele Roberts, assistant secretary for Prevention and Community Health, said most providers usually make appointments available about a week at a time.

She pointed out that the April 15 group will only bring in a little over a million new people, a much smaller group than the one that is eligible so far.

“It’s the final group that’s opening on April 15, it’s not opening up to 6 million people on that day,” she said. “Five million are already included.”

Shipments coming in from the federal government have been growing to meet that increased demand, with just a 28,000-dose gap between what providers asked for and what was sent this week. In previous weeks, that gap was 100,000 or more. This week, the state is getting more than 412,000 doses, and Shah said that is only expected to bump up in the coming weeks.

Still, he said, supply does remain an issue, and it will mean that not every adult becoming eligible April 15 will get a shot right away. He asked people to temper their eagerness for a dose of the vaccine with a dose of patience.

“We want people to recognize that there isn’t enough supply,” he emphasized. “It’s not going to magically open up on April 15.”

Shah also asked that young adults make sure their older or immuno-compromised relatives and friends get appointments before they schedule their own.

“If I’m a younger person and I don’t have any health conditions, but I’ve got my aunt, she’s older, she’s got a couple of health conditions, and I’m trying to figure out if I’m going to get her set up with an appointment or if I’m going to do myself, we’re going to ask you to get your aunt vaccinated,” he said. “These are the micro decisions on the ground we want people to recognize.”

It’s also possible that the clinics and pharmacies offering the vaccine may still choose to schedule people from the first four tiers who have not yet gotten their shot over the incoming group of younger, less-at-risk adults.

“They were in those groups for a reason, they were in those groups because we were concerned about risk. … Our providers are also holding some of those appointment slots for certain populations, certain groups, and they also can prioritize within their systems as they feel appropriate,” he said.

The reason the state decided to move up the all-adults date from May 1 to two weeks earlier was because health leaders did not want to run into a situation where the supply outpaced the demand, with thousands of extra vaccine doses and no one eligible to receive them.

“As the supply all of a sudden really increases — I’m anticipating that will likely be in the May timeframe — what we don’t want to have happen is that we are all of a sudden trying to catch up on the eligibility side,” Shah explained.

To find vaccine availability near you, visit the Department of Health’s vaccine locator page.

Local News

Seattle council, police reform...
Nick Bowman

From taxes to police reform: Seattle council begins work on 2022 wishlist for state lawmakers

Seattle City Council will begin work this week on an early draft of their priorities for the state's upcoming 2022 legislative session. 
11 hours ago
Light rail, Sound Transit...
MyNorthwest Staff

Sound Transit investigating incident where passengers on disabled train walked into tunnels

Sound Transit will be conducting an investigation into an incident where a stopped train led to passengers exiting into the tunnels.
11 hours ago
Flooding, Whatcom County...
KIRO Radio Newsdesk

Whatcom County under voluntary evacuation as concerns over flooding persist

Whatcom County is under a voluntary evacuation notice this morning over concerns with more potential flooding as rain continues this week.
11 hours ago
Kent shootings...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Kent mayor issues statement after several shootings in same area

After several days of gun violence on Kent’s West Hill, the city’s mayor issued a statement Sunday.
11 hours ago
comic con...
MyNorthwest Staff

Emerald City Comic Con returns Dec. 2-5 after being cancelled in 2020

Emerald City Comic Con didn't happen in 2020 due to the pandemic, but the popular four-day event returns to Seattle on Dec. 2-5.
1 day ago
Whatcom County...
MyNorthwest Staff

Forecasters downgrade flood warning for Skagit River

The National Weather Service in Seattle has downgraded the flood peak for the Skagit River.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
State doesn’t think April 15 eligibility will create unmanageable backup