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We must work harder to vaccinate groups suffering most from COVID-19.


How we deliver vaccine can rebuild and foster trust and close the equity gap in Pierce County. 

While we’re all in the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat. Our Pierce County COVID-19 Health Equity Assessment found some groups suffer more than others from the pandemic.

Poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and racism leave some people more likely to get COVID-19 and less protected if they do.

Vaccines may mean hope for some, concern for others.

COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Pierce County. That means different things to different people.

Some are hopeful and excited. Others are concerned and mistrustful. The U.S has a long history of mistreating Black people and other people of color, which has led to mistrust.

These harms include the Tuskegee syphilis trials and nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. Some people fear early vaccination is the government again experimenting on vulnerable communities. These worries create barriers to vaccination.

People who live in rural parts of our county have barriers of their own. Many don’t have easy access to the internet, transportation, healthcare or community events.  We are offering call-in options and direct community partner outreach to reach those rural communities.

Vaccines are one of public health’s greatest successes. Community immunity will help end this pandemic. To achieve it, the public must trust the vaccine works and is safe. And we need to make sure everyone—especially those most vulnerable—can get vaccinated when it’s their turn in the phased approach.

Many who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination face barriers.

Today, we are reporting race and ethnicity data for people who are vaccinated in Pierce County. Of those eligible under DOH’s Phase 1A and 1B Tier 1.

  • People who identify as Black or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders have been about half as likely to receive a vaccine as whites or Asians.
  • Just 3% of Latinx residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, compared to more than 9% of white residents.
  • Women have received almost 2 out of every 3 vaccine doses. This is likely because of their greater numbers among healthcare workers and their longer lifespans.
  • Nearly half of all vaccine recipients were 65 or older.

We will report this information and total people vaccinated every Wednesday on our COVID-19 data page. We’ll share more data on vaccination efforts in the weeks and months ahead.

We use many approaches to deliver vaccines

We must reduce barriers make it harder for those most at risk of worse outcomes to receive vaccines:

  • Technology.
  • Time.
  • Language.
  • Transportation.
  • Geography.
  • Trust in us and the vaccine.

Already, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, MultiCare Health System, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, and volunteers from all these agencies are offering drive-thru community vaccine events throughout Pierce County by appointment. These events don’t meet everyone’s needs. In addition, we are piloting several ways to reach more people and reduce barriers to the vaccine:

  • Small, community-run vaccine events. We will partner with community groups to host and register people for people facing access barriers to our larger drive-thru vaccine events.
  • Medium, community-facilitated vaccine events. Community partners will help promote and register people for events held for communities suffering most from the pandemic. This includes people who are Black, Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander because they experience much higher infection rates than white residents.
  • Mobile vaccine clinics. When people in adult family homes, jails, schools, high-risk work settings, and homeless shelters are eligible, we’ll make sure they can get vaccinated. Local pharmacies, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Washington state Department of Health, the National Guard, and other agencies are providing mobile vaccinations to eligible sites.

We continue to support vaccine delivery through several more approaches:

  • Healthcare providers. For people who have a medical home and access to appointments at their local healthcare providers, this is a great option.
  • Pharmacies. You may have noticed more pharmacies are beginning to offer vaccine. Your local neighborhood pharmacy can be a convenient way to book a vaccination appointment.
  • Large drive-thru community events. Those with transportation may find the drive-thru clinics a great option if they can snag a registration spot. We’ll announce these on our social media and on our website at You can sign up for “COVID-19 community vaccination events” alerts at

We’re also working on other strategies to reduce barriers to the vaccine, and we’ll share more details in the weeks ahead.

Vaccine supply remains limited. We don’t yet have enough to vaccinate everyone who is eligible. In time, supply will increase and more people will be eligible in the phased approach. Until we get through this storm, we must work together to make sure everyone’s boat can weather rough waters.

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