State releases next phase of vaccine prioritization

The Washington State Department of Health Wednesday released guidance for the next phase of COVID-19 vaccination, which will begin after the first phase of inoculations — 1A — is completed.

In its Wednesday announcment, the Department of Health said it created the recommendations  in partnership Gov. Jay Inslee and reliance on federal guidance, along with feedback from nearly 20,000 people statewide who weighed in on the prioritization through focus groups, interviews, and surveys over the past few months.

“Vaccine prioritization decisions are complex, but based in a need for equitable distribution,” says Secretary of Health Umair A. Shah. “Our priority has been to get the vaccine to high-priority people first.”

Broadly, groups eligible for vaccination in phase 1B include:

Phase 1B1 – (Tier 1)

  • All people 70 years and older
  • People 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households

Phase 1B2 – (Tier 2)

  • High-risk critical workers 50 years and older who work in certain congregate settings: Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); childcare; corrections, prisons, jails or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement

Phase 1B3 – (Tier 3)

  • People 16 years or older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions

Phase 1B4 – (Tier 4)

  • High-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings under 50 years
  • People, staff and volunteers all ages in congregate living settings:
    • Correctional facilities; group homes for people with disabilities; people experiencing homelessness that live in or access services in congregate settings

Additional details of phase 1B will be posted on the Department of Health website.

It’s important to note, the announcement said, that the state is not moving into phase 1B right now. The state is still in phase 1A of vaccinations, which will continue for the next few weeks. Many pharmacies, clinics and hospitals are vaccinating people in 1A1, and others have moved to 1A2 (tier 2) While phase 1A is still the priority, the department said it hopes that the release of phase 1B guidance will help facilities, counties and individuals plan for the months ahead.

Once the state is ready to start phase 1B, communities will be informed regarding how and where to get the vaccine.

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