Washington Plans Mass Vaccination Sites, But Says Please Register…And Don’t Show Up Yet

Eager seniors filled up all of the first come, first serve slots at a drive-thru COVID vaccination clinic before the first shots were even given on Thursday in Sequim, Washington. CREDIT: Tom Banse/N3
File photo. Eager seniors filled up all of the first come, first serve slots at a drive-thru COVID vaccination clinic before the first shots were even given on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Sequim, Washington. CREDIT: Tom Banse/N3

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QUICK LINKS:

Washington Vaccine Information Page

FindYourPhaseWA – Washington Vaccine Phase Finder

-WA Vaccine Hotline (6 AM to 10 PM M-F; 8 AM to 6 PM weekends):  800-525-0127

Washington state plans to roll out mass doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at regional hubs starting Monday, Jan. 25. But some local officials say they received little notice and that they’re far from ready.

The state promises more details this weekend.

State Department of Health officials say they are working to shore up the plan to vaccinate thousands of people Washingtonians. Several mass vaccination sites are in the works for Wenatchee (Town Toyota Center); Spokane (Spokane Arena); the Tri-Cities (Benton County Fairgrounds); and Ridgefield (Clark County Fairgrounds).

But some city and county governments say the state gave little time to organize things like traffic and crowd control. Surprised county governments and facility managers say they received no warning from the state before it was announced on Monday, Jan. 18.

“Obviously, people had the assumption that was happening immediately, so we had hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and people showing up, out at the fairgrounds asking where to get vaccinated,” Benton County deputy administrator Matthew Rasmussen said Thursday.

The state is enlisting help from the National Guard and private companies like Starbucks and Microsoft.

Washington Health Secretary Dr. Umair Shah said Thursday that details came together quickly.

“When things move fast, nothing is perfect there are always impediments,” during a press conference.

The state says the vaccines will be available to groups 1A and 1B – mostly seniors – and promised more details over the weekend,” Shah said.

State officials say people should visit the newly rolled out FindYourPhaseWA.org to get their certificate to show they are eligible for the vaccine now.

People can also call the state vaccine hotline at 800-525-0127.

But state officials reminded on Thursday: Please don’t come yet to the mass vaccination sites. They said people will have to preregister for the mass sites that open Monday, but the website to preregister wasn’t available as of Thursday evening.

People have been showing up already at regional vaccine hubs in Wenatchee and the Tri-Cities.

When the sites are officially open, eligible people are told to prepare for a long wait in their car. They’ll also have to wait 15 to 30 minutes after getting the vaccine to monitor for potential reactions.

Northwest News Network correspondent Tom Banse contributed to this story.

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