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caption: Doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are drawn out during a vaccine clinic set up by the Othello Station Pharmacy and the Somali Health Board to vaccinate roughly 100 seniors in the community on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at The Brighton Apartments, a complex for seniors, on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle.
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Doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are drawn out during a vaccine clinic set up by the Othello Station Pharmacy and the Somali Health Board to vaccinate roughly 100 seniors in the community on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at The Brighton Apartments, a complex for seniors, on Rainier Avenue South in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle's vaccine effort just got a major boost with mass vaccination site

Starting Monday, Seattle’s vaccination efforts are undergoing a major expansion with two official vaccine sites as well as a new mass vaccination clinic set to open at Lumen Field.

Initially, the sites have the ability to administer thousands of doses per week. Officials anticipate thousands more shots will be provided as more doses come to town.

“We have, for the top 30 cities or so in America, the lowest level of diseases and hospitalizations,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told KUOW. “Part of the reason for that is we were able to stand up a first class testing system; now we want a first class vaccinations system. So we’re building infrastructure to make permanent some of our vaccination sites and be one of the first cities in the country to vaccinate all of its residents who need to be vaccinated.”

Rainier Beach and West Seattle

Many Seattleites are already familiar with vaccine clinics officially opening at Rainier Beach and West Seattle on Monday. They were already used as testing sites and the city piloted them as vaccine clinics in February.

Now, each site is slated to provide 1,000 doses per week. Though the mayor’s office notes that each site could give out 1,000 doses per day at full capacity, and with enough supplies. The Seattle Fire Department will operate each site.

Mayor Jenny Durkan says the plan has been in motion for months and is now ready to be deployed. The city further plans to open additional sites “as time permits.” The clinics also rely on having an adequate supply of vaccines. Mayor Durkan said “it’s looking like we will.”

All sites will operate on referrals only, with no walk-ins or appointments. The mayor’s office notes that rates of vaccination for people 65 an older are lower in West Seattle and Rainier Beach, with further disparities among people of color. When the city piloted the two locations in February and found that 83% of people at the Rainier Beach location and 40% of those at the West Seattle site identified as BIPOC.

City departments, such as the Department of Neighborhoods and the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, is working with about 50 additional community organizations to help register vaccinations in these communities and people with language barriers.

“Soon, I think, we will have enough vaccine to deliver and then we will have to shift to trying to get people who would be hesitant to come,” Durkan said. “You have to remember that the last four years, the federal government waged a war against our immigrants and refugees. It’s hard to turn on a dime and tell them they can now trust government. That’s why it’s important to have community-based partners who can speak the language or who are trusted messengers.”

caption: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan leaves a press conference on Thursday, February 18, 2021, at the West Seattle Covid-19 testing site on Southwest Thistle Street in Seattle. A pop-up vaccination clinic was set up for older Latino community members who were referred by El Comite or Villa Comunitaria. 
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Mass vaccinations at Lumen Field and mobile vaccinations

So far, Seattle has used its fire department to provide mobile vaccinations for vulnerable populations and people who have difficulty getting to a fixed site. UW Medicine and Swedish Medical Center are starting similar mobile programs and are partnering with the city to help. Swedish is also a partner for the mass vaccination site at Lumen Field, along with First & Goal, Inc.

The mass vaccination site at Lumen Field will be open two days a week and will initially administer 5,000 doses each week, serving the region. Officials’ goal is to get that number up to 150,000 per week.

The Lumen Field mass vaccination site is expected to open in mid-March. As with the Rainier Beach and West Seattle sites, vaccines are primarily targeted at communities of color and underrepresented groups.

“We know clearly from the data that our communities of color in particular have been hit by Covid, not just the health impacts but economic impacts,” Mayor Durkan said. “And the health impacts have been significantly disproportionate.”

Since Seattle began its vaccination efforts in January with popup clinics and the two pilot locations:

  • 8,591 shots given (7,502 first dose; 1,085 second dose)
  • Vaccines provided across 86 adult family homes, 39 affordable housing locations
  • About 70% of residents served are people of color