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Regional News

Supply Worries Hang Over Expanded Vaccination Plans

Washington Governor's Office

The push to vaccinate more people against Covid in Washington is putting health care providers in an interesting situation.

Dr. Chris Dale, the chief quality officer at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, says the uncertainty about supply has some hospitals holding onto Covid vaccines so they have enough to administer second doses, while others are giving as many first shots as they can.“So far it hasn’t been an issue because we have good, full second dose availability. But this will be something as we’re ramping up vaccinations in Washington state that everyone will be keeping their eye on to make sure that we maintain the ability to get second doses out," he said.

Dale and other hospital leaders are hoping supply won’t be an issue as the state opens up vaccine eligibility to people in the first tier of the so-called 1-B group. Those are people 65 and older, which is expected to add another 400,000 people to the list.

“People really want this vaccine and I think that’s part of why we’re reluctant to schedule people for appointments when they don’t know that doses are coming because people are already really impatient. To make someone a promise and then pull it back, I think is really challenging," said Cassie Sauer, the president of the Washington State Hospital Association.

Sauer and other hospital leaders are pushing back against the notion that they’re hoarding a lot of vaccine.

“This notion that there’s hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses in hospitals, sitting on the shelves, is not correct," she said.

Sauer says most hospitals are pretty efficient in doling out the doses. She says part of the problem is with the state’s vaccine record keeping system.

“The data system is clunky. Each individual person, we’re using volunteers to do some of the data entry and each person has to register an individual account, which really slows things down. So we’re looking for more mass ability to connect data," she said.

Sauer says she believes the state will receive about 100,000 doses of vaccine this week.