Wednesday, May 12, 2021
May 12, 2021

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Newest vaccine tier in Washington takes effect Wednesday


OLYMPIA  – As of Wednesday, about 5 million of the state’s more than 7.6 million residents will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.

The latest tier expansion was announced by Inslee earlier this month. Starting Wednesday, eligibility will be extended to those those 16 and older with two or more comorbidities, anyone between the ages of 60 and 64, and workers age 16 and older who work in restaurants, manufacturing and construction. In addition, those living in congregate settings like correctional facilities or group homes for disabilities, or those experiencing homeless will now also be eligible for a vaccine.

The latest tier builds upon previous tiers that started with vaccinating health care workers, first responders and those in nursing homes in December, and later included the elderly, teachers and those who work in grocery stores.

That leaves about 1.2 million more who are not yet eligible, excluding kids under age 16. Gov. Jay Inslee has said that the remainder will be eligible by May 1, a federal deadline set by President Joe Biden. Many states have moved to lift eligibility requirements sooner, but Inslee has said he wants to ensure the most vulnerable receive the shot before eligibility opens to everyone.

More than 3.2 million doses of vaccine have been administered to date, and more than 16% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated, including those vaccinated by the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. More than 27% have received at least one dose of the vaccines that require two shots, by Pfizer and Moderna.

The U.S. has recorded more than 30.3 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 550,000 deaths. There have been more than 339,000 cases in Washington state, and 5,226 deaths.

For most, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks, although long-term effects are unknown. But for some, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.