Another 2 million people in Washington eligible for COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday
Washington state will no longer require people to use the Phase Finder tool to prove they’re eligible for the shot.
Beginning Wednesday, another two million people will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington state. The state Department of Health (DOH) will also no longer require people to use the Phase Finder tool to prove they’re eligible for the shot.
On March 31, Washington will move into Phase 1B Tiers 3 and 4 of the vaccine rollout making vaccine appointments open for:
- Anyone age 16 and older with two or more diseases or medical conditions
- Anyone age 60 and older
- Anyone living or working in certain congregate settings (correctional facilities, group homes for those with disabilities, those experiencing homelessness, etc.)
- Additional high-risk critical workers in congregate settings (restaurants, manufacturing, construction)
The DOH will also no longer require people to use their online questionnaire, known as Phase Finder, to determine eligibility for the shot. The DOH said last week they trust most people will continue to do the right thing and wait for their turn.
The DOH will instead refer people to Washington’s vaccine locator, Vaccinate WA. On the website, people will be able to see if they fall into a qualified group, and they will be able to find providers with available vaccine appointments in their area.
State health officials said removing Phase Finder as a requirement is intended to speed up the vaccination process and reduce barriers for those who wish to get vaccinated.
The state is working to vaccinate as many people as possible before eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older in Washington by May 1 – as directed by President Joe Biden.
Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday there’s a possibility the vaccine could be made available to everyone before that deadline, but it may only be possible if the state sees a “rapid pace” of doses delivered in the next few weeks.
Deb Kalmbach of Sequim recalls her vaccine experience.
“There were hundreds of cars by the time we got there at 3:45 a.m., but we got in,” Kalmbach said. She waited 8 hours in her car before receiving her shot.
Her friend Mary Ravanal of Shelton knows the struggle, as well.
“I sat at the computer all day long, day after day. And got an appointment at QFC,” Ravanal said.
In Snohomish County, roughly 30,000 more people become eligible on Wednesday. Health officials say their system is already at its limit.
“We’ve got more demand than supply,” said Dr. Chris Spitters, health officer with the Snohomish Health District.