Two coronavirus mass-vaccination sites will open Monday in South King County, a region disproportionately affected during the pandemic.
The two sites, at the ShoWare Center in Kent and the General Services Administration (GSA) complex in Auburn, will have the supply and capacity to administer 500 shots a day, Public Health – Seattle & King County said in a news release.
An appointment will be required to receive a shot. Because of limited supply, vaccine appointments are for South King County residents 75 and older; caregivers or home care workers of any age taking care of someone 50 and older who can’t live independently are also eligible.
Caregivers 50 and older living with and caring for family such as grandchildren and nieces and nephews can also be vaccinated at the two sites. Parents living with their children are not included.
“With a limited supply of vaccine, we need to make the best use of every dose that comes to King County,” Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a news release. “The new high-volume vaccine sites will help us get life-saving vaccine to the highest-risk King County residents. We’re taking an equitable approach by starting in the part of our county that’s been hardest hit by COVID-19.”
South King County has sizable communities of color, which have historically dealt with poorer health outcomes.
The disparities are evident with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19. According to Public Health – Seattle & King County’s COVID-19 dashboard, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in King County have the highest infection rate at 8,706.3 per 100,000 people, and Hispanics have an infection rate of 6,682.9 per 100,000 people.
Throughout the pandemic, positive test rates for cases of COVID-19 have consistently been higher in South King County than the rest of the county. The positive case rate per 100,000 residents climbed to 17.8% during the two-week period between Nov. 28 and Dec. 12.
The positivity rate for the same time period on Mercer Island was 7.7%, and in Seattle’s Queen Anne and Magnolia neighborhoods it was 9.5%.
The state opened four mass vaccination sites this week in Clark, Benton, Chelan and Spokane counties. The sites were picked because King, Pierce and Snohomish counties already had mass-vaccination locations operating or were in the planning phase.
“The four sites chosen represent different geographical parts of the state with rural and urban demographics,” state Department of Health spokesperson Shelby Anderson wrote in an email.
Capacity at the two sites will increase as King County receives more doses from the state.
“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,” said county Executive Dow Constantine.
King County is using $7 million from the county’s budget to create and run the vaccination locations.
This isn’t the first time the GSA facility has been used during the pandemic. Public Health – Seattle & King County, UW Medicine and the Valley Regional Fire Authority opened a COVID-19 testing site at the GSA location in September, too, because of the disproportionate rate of positive tests in South King County.
Vaccinations at the GSA complex and ShoWare Center will be given by appointment from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Appointments can be made through King County’s website beginning Saturday at 8 a.m. or by calling the state’s COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127.