King County will launch COVID-19 vaccination sites Monday, Feb. 1 at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent and the General Services Administration (GSA) Complex in Auburn to provide access for vulnerable older adults.
These sites in south King County will reach those who are at highest risk from COVID-19 and face barriers to accessing vaccine through traditional healthcare systems, according to a Jan. 29 county news release.
Public Health has received enough vaccine doses from the state to begin operating the two sites at 500 doses per day, six days a week. These sites will position King County to be able to quickly scale up vaccination efforts and serve the broader community when more vaccine becomes available.
“I want to thank the county for taking Kent up on its offer to use the accesso ShoWare Center to provide vaccines to our community,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said. “The sooner we can get supply and administer the vaccine, the sooner we can put COVID-19 in our rear-view mirror and move toward recovery. This has truly been a team effort between the county, city of Kent, public health officials and providers. I am thrilled to have Kent and South King County help lead the way back to a healthy and vibrant community.”
The announcement also pleased Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus.
“We are grateful to King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County and all of our partners for once again pulling in much needed resources to south King County where the need is the greatest,” Backus said. “Auburn is a resilient and caring community; we are ready and will continue to do our part to accelerate vaccinations and improved health in King County.”
Reaching vulnerable community members
People age 75 and older have endured much higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than any other group and face more challenges to getting vaccinated, such as transportation barriers and more limited internet access, according to the news release. In King County, 66% of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among those 75 and older, compared to those ages 65 to 74, who account for 19% of total deaths.
While the vaccine supply remains very limited, the Kent and Auburn sites will focus on vaccinating highest-risk south King County residents ages 75 and older, individuals who are unable to live independently and their caregivers. Appointment availability will expand to individuals age 65-74 as vaccine supply increases. Older adults in south King County are at particularly high risk, as rates of COVID-19 in many parts of south King County have been nearly twice as high compared to the county average.
“This is all-hands-on-deck, coordinating county government with partners across the region to stand up community vaccination sites,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “I share the frustration of not having enough vaccine from manufacturers, but we are determined to build the distribution infrastructure to quickly and fairly get shots to eligible people as soon as those doses are available, and to expand capacity ahead of the increasing supply.”
The sites at Kent and Auburn are by appointment only and will be open Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 30, residents can register for an appointment at Public Health’s vaccine website, Getting Vaccinated in King County.
Currently, both vaccine supply and appointments are limited. Residents may experience delays, or it may take time before appointments are available due to anticipated high demand. This will get easier as the vaccine supply increases.
To help ensure access for those most at risk, currently registration is open to residents of south King County who are:
• Age 75 and older OR
• A family caregiver or home care worker taking care of someone age 50 or older who cannot live independently. The caregiver or home care worker does not need to be 50 or older OR
• Specific groups of people age 50 and older. Those who are:
* Unable to live independently and receiving care from a caregiver, relative, in-home caregiver or someone who works outside the home.
* Living with AND caring for kin (examples include caring for a grandchild, niece or nephew. This does not include parents living with their child).
To register by phone, call Washington state’s COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press # for help with registration. For language interpretation state your preferred language when you are connected.
“We need to do everything we can to remove barriers that prevent South King County community members from getting a vaccine once they become eligible,” said King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “Delays in federal distribution have slowed the process, but by establishing these high-volume sites, King County stands prepared to move quickly once those vaccines become available.”
• Kent accesso ShoWare Center, 625 W. James St. Park, walk, or arrive by transit and enter building. Wheelchair accessible.
Vaccination efforts to-date
The number of people who have received at least one dose of vaccine continues to rise. In King County, as of Jan. 28, 174,000 people have received at least one dose, according to the news release. King County along with medical system partners has made great progress in vaccinating healthcare workers and staff and residents in long-term care facilities, including 100% of King County nursing home residents.
Public Health is also coordinating mobile vaccination teams with local fire departments to reach highest risk adults who cannot get to vaccination sites, including staff and residents of Adult Family Homes and vulnerable older adults living in low-income senior housing and permanent supportive housing.
Current supplies are not enough to meet the need. Doses coming into Washington are insufficient to reach eligible adults. King County has approximately 300,000 people who are newly eligible for vaccine under phase 1B1, which includes people over 65 years of age. But in the week starting Jan. 25, King County only received 22,000 first doses. That’s enough for 1 in 12 who are eligible.
While supply continues to be uncertain, King County is working closely with businesses and community partnerships to be ready to stand up several vaccine access points across King County.