Editor’s note: Instructions and information can change quickly, and many of the resources listed below have had errors, backups, or inaccuracies recently. If you discover a discrepancy or have any other information or tips, please email [email protected]
Last week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced a public-private partnership to accelerate the spread of coronavirus vaccines with a goal of delivering 45,000 vaccines per day.
At the same time, Inslee admits the state is executing its new strategy before it has enough vaccines to keep up with this pace.
The state is in vaccination Stage 1 of Phase 1B, which will allow people aged 65 and over – and those aged 50 and over in multi-generation households – to receive the vaccine. This is in addition to those in Phase 1A, including healthcare workers, high risk first responders, and long-term care residents.
Previously, Tier 1 of Phase 1B was supposed to include people age 70 and older, but was expanded after the federal government urged states to change. About 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Washington state are 65 years and older, according to Inslee.
Changing federal guidelines, coupled with a predictable flood of interest, have made it difficult for the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to educate the public about the vaccine. For the past few weeks, DOH has been experiencing issues with its PhaseFinder application, which allows users to find out if they are eligible for vaccination, as well as the main website.
The result so far has been mass confusion and a seemingly endless search for information from people desperate to get their loved ones or themselves vaccinated.
We will continue to update this page with the most current instructions on how to get a coronavirus vaccine in the Seattle area.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a vaccine in Seattle, King County, and Washington state:
Before you begin: be patient
Before starting the vaccination process, the first thing you should know is that it will take a lot of patience.
All sorts of problems and slowdowns have occurred with the introduction of the vaccine, and even if the messages were delivered clearly, the supply of vaccines would not be enough to cover them all.
Hospital leaders say they have received an overwhelming barrage of phone calls and hospital visits from people looking for vaccination appointments.
“We don’t have any additional appointments scheduled at this time,” said Brian Ivie, CEO of Skagit’s Regional Health System, during a press conference on Monday hosted by the Washington State Hospital Association.
Inslee said the state is shifting its strategy to create the infrastructure for mass vaccination without waiting for dose volumes to match.
“We want people to realize that this will take time,” said the governor.
We ask for your patience while we wait for the additional delivery of the #COVIDVaccine. We wish we could all vaccinate right away, but there just isn’t enough supply to meet current demand. We will continue to update you with information on the # COVID19 vaccination in Washington. pic.twitter.com/70HZgGXOlw
– WA Department of Health (@WADeptHealth) January 26, 2021
So, yes, you need to use your patience to get an appointment, and sometimes even just to get information from the state, a vaccination center, or your doctor.
When you’re ready to deal with potentially frustrating scenarios, read on.
Step 1: are you eligible?
The first task is to find out if you are eligible for a vaccine.
If you have an internet connection, you can use the state’s PhaseFinder tool at findyourphasewa.org to find out. If you are currently not eligible, you can enter your details to be notified when it is your turn to be vaccinated.
PhaseFinder has been experiencing bugs recently due to the influx of interest so it may not always be available.
The COVID phone line (800-525-0127) is receiving a large number of calls and people are reporting problems getting through. Sorry for the inconvenience. We are working on adding more capacity. You can still get information by sending an SMS to 211-211. Updates as soon as we have more information.
– WA Department of Health (@WADeptHealth) January 25, 2021
If you don’t have an internet connection or PhaseFinder is down, you can call DOH at 1-800-525-0127 and press #. This number has seen long response times and a backlog of people trying to get information so you may not get through.
If you are unable to call the main number above, DOH suggests calling the alternate phone number to add more calling capacity: 888-856-5816.
If you cannot determine whether you are eligible for the vaccination, contact your GP who can advise you on your next steps.
Step 2: Find a vaccination site
Once you determine that you are eligible for vaccination, you can find a vaccination site on the DOH website. You can also see the map here via DOH:
It is worth noting, however, that DOH said the website was “a work in progress” and may not be 100% updated on which websites vaccines are available. But there is a place to start.
If you know you are eligible to get the vaccine and are unsuccessful in finding a vaccination site through the DOH website, or if you do not have internet access, call DOH at 1-800-525-0127 and press You #, or by calling the alternative number 888-856-5816. One more reminder, DOH has seen long response times and a lot of people trying to get information so you may not get through.
You can and should also check your local health district website. In King County, that’s Public Health – Seattle & King County.
If you still can’t find a vaccination center with open appointments but you know you are eligible for the vaccination, contact your GP.
Step 3: Make an appointment or get in line
Once you’ve found an open vaccination site near you, you’ll need to make an appointment, if available.
Some locations are first come, first served. So make sure you know if you need an appointment at your preferred vaccination site. If it’s a first come website website, come early and wait.
If your vaccination center has appointments, make one and hope it doesn’t get canceled. Some vaccination centers have canceled appointments because they do not have the vaccines required to meet all appointments.
Step 4: get vaccinated and keep wearing a mask
After receiving your first shot, you will have to wait either three or four weeks before receiving a second shot, depending on the vaccine you received.
The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine requires a booster three weeks after the first shot, and Moderna has a four week gap between the two shots.
This means that the 95% protection created by the two vaccines doesn’t fully kick in until five or six weeks after the first shot.
Some vaccines, like the flu, can prevent people from getting sick, but not necessarily from getting infected and spreading the virus to others. It is not yet known if this is the case with coronavirus vaccines, said Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Kaiser Health News.
“We don’t yet know whether the vaccine will protect against infection or just disease,” said Frieden. “In other words, a vaccinated person can still potentially spread the virus even if they don’t feel sick.”
It is advisable that the vaccinated still wear masks as clinical studies have not answered the question of whether a vaccinated person can still spread the disease, Michele Roberts, a DOH assistant secretary, said last month.
How is the pandemic affecting you?
What has changed in your daily life? What kind of conversations do you have with family members and friends? Are you a health worker who is at the forefront of the answer? Are you or do you know a COVID-19 patient? Whoever you are, we want to hear from you so that our reporting is as complete, accurate and useful as possible. If you’re using a mobile device and can’t see the form on this page, click here.
Information from the Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
on Twitter: @alexiniguez. Alex Iniguez is Assistant Metro Editor at the Seattle Times. After arriving in Seattle in the summer of 2018, he worked as an Assistant Sports Editor for over two years. He spent the past seven years with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and is a graduate of the University of Illinois.