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What to expect with Washington vaccine eligibility now opened up

Directly outside a West Seattle vaccine clinic. (MyNorthwest photo)

COVID-19 vaccine eligibility is now open to everyone in Washington state over the age of 16 as of April 15. Because that opens vaccinations to an additional 1.5 million people, the state is warning people to remain patient, and expect possible delays in making appointments.

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Washington is currently distributing two types of vaccines, both of which require two doses: Pfizer and Moderna. Pfizer is the only vaccine authorized for people 16 and up, while Moderna is permitted for anyone over the age of 18.

On Tuesday, the state paused its use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine while the CDC and FDA investigate blood clots reported in six women. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine had been administered in the United States up until this week, the vast majority of which have produced either mild side effects or none at all.

The state will be receiving between 365,000 and 377,000 vaccine doses from the federal government in each of the next three weeks. Given the limited availability of doses, the state Department of Health says “it may be more difficult to find an appointment” starting Thursday.

“We ask that people please be patient and know that while you may not get the vaccine today, you will get it soon,” the DOH said in a written release.

That’s largely driven by the fact that more vaccine supplies are still needed in Washington despite the expansion in eligibility.

“We want people to recognize that there isn’t enough supply,” state Secretary of Health Umair Shah said during an early-April briefing. “It’s not going to magically open up on April 15.”

To find an available vaccine appointment near you, you can use the statewide “Vaccine Locator” tool at this link, or call 800-525-0127 for assistance. Information and links to make an appointment at one of the four state-run mass vaccination sites is available here.

In King County, you can register for an appointment at one of the four county-run sites online here. Those who live or work in Seattle can sign up here to be notified when appointments are available. Mass vaccination site appointments in Snohomish County can be found online here. Those in Pierce County can register for upcoming vaccine events here, or sign up for email alerts for community vaccine events.

For anyone unable to schedule an appointment right away, state officials are encouraging people to keep checking daily.

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To support Thursday’s expansion, the FEMA-operated vaccination site in Yakima will be open seven days a week between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., and will be open until 8 p.m. starting on April 25.

As of April 10, over 22% of Washingtonians have been fully vaccinated, while nearly 35% of the state’s population has received at least one dose. Prior to Thursday, roughly five million people were eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine combined across all prior phases.

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