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Now, all people 12 years of age or older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Since mid-December the state has shuffled its eligibility tiers, opening them up to more people as the supply of vaccines increased. Now, more than 6 million doses have been administered in the state and over a third of people are fully vaccinated.
For months, vaccine appointments were difficult to book as demand overwhelmed supply. But in recent weeks, the state has had ample supply as it seeks to inoculate those hesitant or teens who are newly eligible.
So what’s the best way to find an appointment?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get a vaccine in Seattle, King County and Washington state:
Step 1: Are you eligible?
If you’re 12 or older, you’re eligible.
Determining eligibility in previous months had been much more difficult.
The state did provide a questionnaire tool, called Phase Finder, that helped show when you’d be eligible for a vaccine. But it was discontinued March 31 with expanding eligibility.
On May 10, the FDA authorized the Pfizer vaccine for those ages 12 to 15.
If you have any questions, you can call DOH at 1-800-525-0127, then press #. That number had seen long response times and a logjam of people trying to get information, so you may not be able to get through.
If you can’t get through calling the main number above, DOH suggests calling its alternate phone number as it tries to add more call capacity: 1-888-856-5816.
You can also contact your primary-care provider.
Step 2: Find a vaccination site
Once you’ve determined you’re eligible to be vaccinated, you can find a vaccination site on DOH’s website. In March, DOH launched a new tool that allows you to enter your ZIP code and find available appointments near you.
You can also check the state’s PrepMod tool to find even more vaccination clinics. The site is updated continuously with open clinics.
If you aren’t having success finding a vaccination site through DOH’s website, try calling DOH at 1-800-525-0127, press #, or at its alternate phone number of 888-856-5816. Another reminder: DOH has seen long response times and a logjam of people trying to get information, so you may not be able to get through.
You also can and should check your local health district’s website. In King County, that’s Public Health — Seattle & King County.
If you cannot find a vaccination site with open appointments, contact your primary-care provider for guidance.
Starting Monday, May 17, Seattle’s K-8, middle and high schools will host vaccine clinics for students age 12 and older, Seattle Public Schools announced.
Students will need to bring a signed parental-consent form and complete a health screening, the school district said. In-person learning students who are eligible and have an approved consent form will be dismissed for the clinic; details of the in-person vaccination schedule will be sent to families.
Remote-learning students may arrive at the clinics, which don’t require appointments, at any time during the scheduled time block for their school. The full list of each school’s clinic time is available on the Seattle Public Schools website.
Step 3: Make an appointment
Once you find an open vaccination site near you, you’ll need to make an appointment, if available.
Some sites are first come, first served, so be sure to know whether you need an appointment at your preferred vaccination site. If it’s a first-come-first-served site, get there early and be prepared to wait.
At King County’s two mass-vaccination sites, in Kent and Auburn, you must make an appointment. Click here to access King County’s scheduling tool.
If you’re having trouble making an appointment in King County, call Public Health — Seattle & King County at 206-477-3977 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A team of four guerrilla techies has launched the state’s first one-stop site to find available vaccine appointments — covidwa.com — but another warning: The site offers no solace from the vaccine system’s main problem, which is a lack of doses.
If you still need help, you can request access to the closed Facebook group called “Find a COVID shot WA,” where neighbors are volunteering assistance.
Step 4: Get vaccinated
After you get your first shot, you’ll need to wait either three or four weeks before getting a second shot, depending which vaccine you received.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires a booster three weeks after the first shot, and Moderna has a four-week gap between the two shots.
This means that the 95% protection generated by the two vaccines won’t fully kick in until five or six weeks after the first shot.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires one dose and provided significant protection against illness four weeks after administration in clinical trials, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some vaccines, like for the flu, can prevent people from getting sick but not necessarily from being infected and able to transmit the virus to others. It isn’t known if that is the case with coronavirus vaccines, Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Kaiser Health News.
“We don’t yet know if the vaccine protects against infection, or only against illness,” Frieden said. “In other words, a vaccinated person might still be able to spread the virus, even if they don’t feel sick.”
It is prudent for the vaccinated to still wear masks because clinical trials didn’t answer the question about a vaccinated person still being able to spread the disease, said Michele Roberts, a state DOH acting assistant secretary.
The CDC did loosen its guidance for mask wearing, saying vaccinated Americans can go mask-less outdoors.
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.