WA Vaccine Notes: Essential Workers Eligibility Moved Up To March 17

Mar 12, 2021

Washington will open Covid vaccinations to a new group of people on March 17, not March 22 as originally planned.
Credit Courtesy of Washington Department of Health

Washington's Department of Health is moving its vaccine prioritization soon to more essential workers rather than just those over the age of 65. But one set of workers not found on the priority list is restaurant employees.

The state’s acting health Officer, Dr Scott Lindquist, says he sees that as something that might be added to the essential worker list.

“Quite frankly it’s under discussion right now because I feel the same, that if you really look at the largest outbreak numbers, they are in restaurants and bars and that's a logical place to put it. The fact comes to this we really don't have enough vaccine right now," he said.

The current plans call for a move on March 17 to begin vaccinating high-risk critical workers employed in certain congregate settings like food processing plants, fishing vessel crews and grocery stores. 

In other vaccine news, although Washington received an initial shipment of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine last week, none of it was sent to the Spokane area.

The 61,000 doses of J& J vaccine were sent to counties were owed vaccine by the state. Assistant Health Secretary Michele Roberts says the state is also behind when it comes to the number of facilities requesting vaccine.

“We have about 1,400 providers enrolled and we're getting vaccine to about 300 of them, so we’re about 300 each week. So we've got a lot of room for growth and a lot of people still waiting.”

Those providers have requested 130,000 doses more than have been allocated to state for next week. Roberts says it's expected that the J&J vaccine will start to arrive in Washington again around the end of March.