King County will direct $7 million from the county’s budget to stand up mass coronavirus vaccination sites, county officials said in a news briefing Friday morning.
The county plans to launch two vaccination sites in hard-hit South King County as soon as Feb. 1, said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County. The county will launch mobile vaccination clinics as soon as possible, Hayes added.
“As soon as sufficient supply of vaccine is available, we’re ready to serve,” Hayes said.
County Executive Dow Constantine said the county would pay for these sites with its own budget.
“We’re not waiting for all the usual negotiations and contracts, but we expect to be reimbursed by the state and federal governments if we are to continue a robust public health response,” Constantine said. “These local efforts will complement the state’s vaccination plan.”
Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who chairs the county’s budget committee, said she was “confident” the federal government would provide COVID-19 relief funding.
Constantine said he was concerned about the pace of vaccination, and noted that health officials and epidemiologists have said it will take protecting around 70% of the community to stop the novel coronavirus from being easily transmitted.
To reach that proportion for King County’s population, “it will take six months under a very aggressive plan that administers 16,000 vaccines a day,” Constantine said. “We want to make sure there are no more bottlenecks.”
Hayes said Public Health – Seattle & King County, which will operate the clinics, will focus “first and foremost on our role to address gaps in vaccine access,” particularly in areas of the county hardest hit by the virus and for those most vulnerable.
During the early phases of vaccination, Hayes indicated mobile teams could travel to people, such as those in adult family care homes, who would have difficulty traveling to vaccine clinics. The mobile teams could also reach the homebound elderly and their caregivers.
Hayes said the mobile teams — who could travel in vans or recreational vehicles — could visit multiple adult family homes in a day, travel from house to house or establish pop-up clinics.