City of Seattle ramps up direct vaccine delivery

Building on its successful free COVID-19 testing program, today Mayor Durkan and Seattle fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins announced that the state has officially approved SFD’s EMS team to be a COVID-19 vaccine distributor, and with that certification the team will launch two “mobile vaccination teams.”

 

The state certification allows the city to sign up for direct vaccine shipments from the federal government that it can then use to vaccinate individuals who might otherwise get missed by the vaccine delivery systems already in place through healthcare organizations and federal, state and county efforts. The two mobile vaccination teams, which the city expects to jointly deliver up to 100 vaccinations a day, will initially focus on the 100 or so Adult Family Homes (AFHs) in Seattle that are not covered by the federal vaccination program. Each AFH has an average of 8-10 residents and staff. The city expects to visit about 10 facilities and vaccinate 100 people per day, allowing it to cover all 100 AFHs in the first two weeks. The team will automatically schedule a return visit 28 days later to deliver the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.

A mobile vaccination team consists of one firefighter EMT or paramedic and two civilian registration technicians. Chief Scoggins said that the city applied for certification in late November, but the process had several steps including providing documentation that SFD could safely store the vaccine in appropriate refrigeration units.

In the two-week period between the two doses, the city expects to expand its effort to vaccinate other high-priority individuals by partnering with community-based organizations and providers who serve older individuals. Longer term, as vaccine supply and distribution (hopefully) ramp up, the city has ambitions to set up mass vaccination sites. By Durkan’s calculation, in order to reach 70% of the population who have either been vaccinated or caught and recovered from COVID-19 — the milestone at which herd immunity kicks in — 1.3 million people will need to be vaccinated, twice. To reach that goal, she sees the need for “mass vaccination hubs” similar to mass testing sites, alongside partnerships with employers, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. Both Durkan and Scoggins expressed their enthusiasm for scaling up the vaccination program as fast as the vaccine supply will allow, recognizing that for the foreseeable future they will be constrained by the availability of vaccines.

 


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