Who will receive the COVID-19 vaccine first in Washington?

Everyone who wants a vaccine will get one, but only specific people get them during Phase 1-A.
A vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 sits on a table at Hartford Hospital, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Hartford, Conn (Photo by Jessica Hill).

KENNEWICK, Wash. — As the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccines become available in Washington state, the quantity will be extremely limited to begin.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is distributing its limited amount of vaccines throughout the country. Public health officials expect the vaccine to become more widely available by the middle of 2021.

The FDA required each state’s officials to craft a distribution plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution on Oct. 16, 2020. Each plan is fluid and will adapt to new information, but Phase 1-A is set to begin in Washington.

High-risk first responders and health care workers will be prioritized first to ensure the people working in hospitals around the country are immune to the virus they fight against.

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In line with protecting high-risk individuals with early rounds of the COVID-19 vaccine, assisted living facilities and nursing homes will receive vaccines next. COVID-19 is especially deadly to the elderly population. In Benton and Franklin Counties, 71.4 percent of COVID-19-related deaths have come from those age 70 and older.

With this in mind, residents and staff at similar facilities throughout the state are being prioritized.

Similar to the way that COVID-19 tests have become more easily accessible, vaccines should be relatively simple to get down the line. The Benton-Franklin Health Clinic (BFHD) suggests that local pharmacies, drive-through clinics and healthcare clinics should provide vaccinations when the supply meets the demand.

The Washington State Department of Health determined the Phase 1-A recipients by following specific criteria:

  • Ethical Principles
    • Maximum benefit
    • Equal concern
    • Mitigation of health inequities
  • Procedural Principles
    • Fairness
    • Transparency
    • Evidence-based
  • Criteria
    • Risk of acquiring infection
    • Risk of severe morbidity and mortality
    • Risk of negative societal impact
    • Risk of transmitting infection to others

For more information on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, you can visit the BFHD website here.

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