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Washington Opens Covid Vaccinations To All Adults Today

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

Washington opens Covid vaccines to all adults, as well as 16- and 17-year-olds, on Thursday. Health providers say they’re bracing for a big rush of people who have waited patiently for their turn.Thursday is the day that many people who haven’t fallen into the initial priority groups are now eligible for coronavirus vaccine shots. It’s good news for individuals and for the bigger picture, says Spokane County Interim Health Officer Francisco Velazquez.

“I think it’s a very important milestone for us as a state and a community and I would encourage everyone to really take the time to make an appointment, tomorrow, the next day, next Monday, doesn’t matter. As soon as you can, get immunized," he said.

Velazquez says local providers are ready for what is expected to be a wave of new people.

“The demand for the vaccine is probably going to exceed the supply of vaccine and that’s probably our biggest concern. We are ready to scale up. We already have the plans. There’s already clinics set up. If you talk to any of our providers, they already have their schedules ready to go," he said.

One of those providers is Safeway, whose director of pharmacy operations is David Green. He says Safeway’s pharmacies are in good shape in terms of vaccine supply.

“We’ve been getting consistent allocations from the federal government so I don’t think we’re going to overextend ourselves," he said.

Even with that preparation, Green is urging customers who come to Safeway for shots to be patient and to make appointments ahead of time.

He says Safeway administers all three vaccines. He says the Johnson and Johnson version has been only a small percentage of its inventory. Most is Moderna and Pfizer.

One challenge, he says, is going to be the increased demand from those 16- and 17-year-olds who are only eligible for the Pfizer version. It’s the only one that has been authorized for that age group.

“We may have to add Pfizer into more hubs than we currently have now to anticipate the needs for the 16- and 17-year-olds," he said.

Health Officer Francisco Velazquez hopes a lot of 16- and 17-year-olds will take advantage of their opportunity and get their vaccines. He’s also hoping people in their 20s and 30s, people less likely to get seriously ill from the virus, will also decide it’s in their best interest to be inoculated.