PIERCE COUNTY, WA — Pierce County's health department is gearing up for broader vaccine distribution in the weeks and months ahead.
According to the latest blog post from the Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department, as of Wednesday, roughly 13,200 people who work in Pierce County have received their first vaccine dose. In addition, about 8,300 county residents have received their first dose.
But, despite this solid start, the health department admits it will have to speed up once vaccinations start for the larger populace.
"We’re off and running, but people will need to be vaccinated more quickly in the weeks and months ahead," writes Kayla Scrivner, program manager for TPCHD's communicable disease division.
Right now, Washington is in Phase 1A of its vaccine distribution plan, meaning the vaccine is only available to health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities. But before January ends, the state expects to transition to a new phase: Phase 1B1, which will include anyone 70 years or older, and anyone 50 years old or older who lives in a multigenerational household.
While the exact start date for Phase 1B1 has yet to be released, TPCHD says they're busy preparing for the expansion.
"Many people across Pierce County are doing hard, complicated work and planning to protect our residents," Scrivner said. "With each passing day, our systems will become more efficient and more people will receive their vaccination."
To help spread awareness, the health department and state have released several tools that residents can use to track when they might be eligible for the vaccine.
The Tacoma - Pierce County Health Department is posting vaccination distribution updates on their website at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture. Residents can also sign up for notifications from the county by visiting tpchd.org/notify. Finally, Washington state has launched a coronavirus vaccine eligibility tool which asks users several questions about their age or risk factors, then tells them if they are eligible for the shot or not. Residents who are not yet eligible can then choose to get alerts via text or email to notify them when they might be able to get their vaccination shot.
While the county health department waits for Phase 1B1 to officially launch, they're reminding everyone to continue following coronavirus safety guidance, like limiting social gatherings, wearing a mask when you leave the house, and keeping a safe physical distance of six feet from those outside your household.