The demand for the coronavirus vaccine was immense from the day doses were first shipped. Now that vaccinations have been extended to some beyond health care workers and others in the first phase and mass-vaccination sites have opened across the state, the frenzy to secure an appointment has turned desperate.
The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), counties and local health districts are struggling to keep up with the demand. The mass vaccination sites in Auburn and Kent were booked through February by the time they opened Monday, and the DOH’s website crashed more than once last month because of the volume of people looking for appointments.
Until vaccine supply increases from the federal government, the widespread frustration emanating from those trying to make appointments for themselves or loved ones will continue.
For this week’s FAQ Friday, we explain how to try and get an appointment and explain how DOH and King County define multigenerational housing for the purposes of vaccination.
How do I find and make a vaccination appointment? What if I don’t have internet access?
The first step is knowing your vaccination phase. Currently, the state is in Phase 1 and vaccination Tiers 1A and 1B, which is for people 65 and older and those 50 and older in multigenerational households (more on what that means below).
Originally, Tier 1 of Phase 1B included people 70 and older but was lowered to people 65 and older. Check with your local health district about eligibility because it varies by county.
King County is only vaccinating people 75 and older at its mass vaccination locations, in addition to caregivers or home care workers of any age taking care of someone 50 and older who can’t live independently.
To find your place in the vaccination order, you can use the state’s online tool called Phase Finder at findyourphasewa.org. The site has crashed because of the number of people using it, so patience might be needed.
The next step if you are eligible is to find a place administering vaccines and make an appointment. Most appointments are made online, though many health care systems and health districts in the Puget Sound region have paused accepting new appointments because of a lack of supply.
DOH has a map and list of where people can get vaccinated throughout the state. It is worth double-checking with the provider administering the vaccine or your local health department because DOH has called the webpage a “work in progress.”
People without internet access can call DOH at 800-525-0127, press #, or 888-856-5816. Again, be patient, because at times the phone lines have been flooded with calls.
It is also worth checking in with your primary care provider for guidance.
How is a “multigenerational home” defined for the purposes of vaccinations?
People living in multigenerational homes were included in Phase 1B to try reaching older adults who aren’t living in long-term care facilities. DOH also said in a news release that many multigenerational homes consist of essential workers, communities of color and refugee and immigrant communities.
So what constitutes a multigenerational home? It depends. DOH and Public Health – Seattle & King County have slightly different definitions.
DOH defines a multigenerational home as having two or more generations that include people who are 50 and older caring for a grandchild — or a person who is at least 50 and can’t live independently, and is receiving assistance from a caregiver or lives with someone who works outside the home.
Like DOH, Public Health – Seattle & King County defines multigenerational homes as caregivers who are 50 and older living with and caring for family such as grandchildren. Public Health expanded its definition to include multigenerational homes where a person 50 and older is caring for nieces and nephews can also be vaccinated at the county’s two mass-vaccination sites. Parents living with their children are not included.