Washington Department of Health partially blames slow vaccine rollout on federal government

In Coronavirus Vaccine Drive, Deep South Falls Behind
Rogelio V. Solis

FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2020, file photo, a registered nurse prepares a syringe with the first round of the Pfizer COVID vaccination in Ridgeland, Miss., as state medical leaders received inoculations. On Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, The coronavirus vaccines have been rolled out unevenly across the U.S., but some states in the Deep South have had particularly dismal inoculation rates.

SPOKANE, Wash.– Washington’s vaccine rollout has been a mess, much like it has been across the rest of the United States.

Many of you have reached out to us every day, asking when you and your loved ones could get the vaccine.

We took those questions straight to local and state health officials, but they haven’t really given us an answer.

Just as we’re asking for more transparency from our local and state health officials, the Washington Department of Health is doing the same.

The state’s Secretary of Health said it’s on the federal government to not only send more doses to states, but to also create a better a plan.

“We’re going as fast as we can, but we need to do better,” said Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair Shah. “The key is getting more doses into states so those states can get them into local communities and into the arms of people.”

So far, Washington has administered nearly 202,000 vaccinations.

That’s just 32 percent of the vaccine doses the state has in its hands right now. So, what’s the hold up? The DOH said one problem is healthcare workers, who are hesitant to take the vaccine and are creating a delay in the pipeline.

“To all workers in healthcare settings, I have a suggestion for you: you need to get your vaccine, and you need to get it now,” Michele Roberts of the DOH said.
The state has also said it’s taking its time to make sure the rollout is done correctly, rather than rushed.

Another 123,000 doses are expected in Washington this week, and a total of 627 providers in the state are qualified to give the vaccine.
The federal government now plans to send out previously reserved second doses, so more people can get their first.

States are also now urged to vaccinate people older than 65 as soon as possible, and that’s a suggestion Dr. Shah takes issue with.
“You’re making the line longer but you’re not actually helping people get more vaccines, because there’s not enough supply,” Dr. Shah said.
Some people qualify for Washington’s current vaccine phases but don’t know where to get vaccinated.

We’re still waiting on those answers from local and state health officials. The DOH said a website will be released later this week to offer more clarity on the entire vaccine rollout.
In the meantime, they believe a more clear federal plan is the first step in fixing this vaccine rollout.

Providence Health tells 4 News Now it has been working with the Spokane Regional Health District to get the vaccine to as many providers as possible.
This all becomes even more critical as 300 people are catching the virus per day in Spokane County over the last week.