This morning the city’s new Mobile Vaccination Team, which is staffed by Seattle Fire Department paramedics and EMTs, announced that it has finished up its work on vaccinating residents and workers in adult family homes, and as of yesterday has moved on to its next set of people to vaccinate: home healthcare workers, and older residents of permanent support housing and affordable housing buildings in the city.
According to the city, since January 14 the mobile vaccination team has vaccinated 670 individuals in 81 adult family homes and two permanent supportive housing buildings in Seattle — some of the people at the highest risk for catching the virus and having the most serious complications. That exhausted about half of the 1,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine the city received in its first shipment from the federal government since it was certified by the state to administer vaccines directly earlier this month. The city expects to receive another 1,000 doses next week, and it plans to use its inventory to vaccinate three groups:
- In-home healthcare workers: this group are disproportionately people of color, limited English speakers, and without healthcare insurance. The city is partnering with SEIU 775, the union representing a large number of healthcare workers in Seattle, to host a one-day “pop up” vaccination clinic to reach up to 300 workers.
- Residents of permanent supportive housing (PSH) facilities in Seattle, many of whom are formerly homeless and have serious health conditions that put them at greater risk. PSH facilities often have shared kitchens and bathrooms, which increase the risk of spreading communicable diseases such as COVID-19.
- Older residents of affordable housing developments in Seattle. The city says that it will be setting up pop-up clinics at facilities run by Bellwether Housing, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, Seattle Chinatown International District Public Development Authority (SCIDpda), and Seattle Housing Authority.
All of the intended vaccine recipients are currently eligible under Governor Inslee’s vaccination distribution plan, which is in “Phase 1B, Tier 1”.
While the overall vaccination count is still small, the city is targeting those who are at high risk of dying from COVID if they become infected. The effort will have little effect at this point on the number of cases, but it may cause the mortality rate from COVID to drop a significant amount. Since it takes two doses to reach full efficacy and the fatality count lags the infection count by a few weeks, it may be March before we notice a difference.
Both the City of Seattle and King County have stated their desire to scale up free vaccination clinics if they can procure more vaccine doses. Now that the Biden Administration has taken over the federal response, we may see shipments to the city and county increase in the coming weeks — or at least greater transparency in setting expectations for the size and schedule of new shipments in the coming weeks. Yesterday the Biden Administration released a 117-page National Strategy for COVID-19 response, and President Biden signed seven executive orders related to enacting that strategy.
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