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More COVID-19 vaccine eligibility and access points to end the pandemic

TACOMA, Wash.—More COVID-19 vaccine is arriving in Pierce County each week. This is good news because each dose people receive moves us closer to ending the pandemic. On Jan. 18, the Washington State Department of Health began Phase 1B Tier 1 of the state’s vaccination plan, making the vaccine available to many more people.

“The Health Department and our many partners are working to move swiftly to get the vaccine into the arms of eligible people as it becomes available,” said Director of Health Anthony L-T Chen, MD, MPH. “Thousands in Pierce County have already received the vaccine. We look forward to vaccinating thousands more so we can put the pandemic behind us,” Chen said.

What’s the Health Department doing for Phase 1B?

Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department leads the county’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts. The Health Department works with many community partners to provide various options to access vaccine. Our partners have access points in diverse locations throughout our community. For Phase 1B, vaccines will be available:

Through registered medical provider clinics by appointment.
At COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinics sponsored by Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and our healthcare systems several times a week by appointment. We will announce dates and locations as more vaccine becomes available this week.
At pharmacies such as Safeway, Albertson’s, independent pharmacies, and others joining the vaccination effort.
Through vaccine drop teams led by the Health Department, various pharmacies like Rankos’, Walgreens and CVS to vaccinate people in high-risk settings, such as adult family homes and long-term care facilities.
At some local employers who may host vaccination clinics.

About 58,000 to 98,000 people in Pierce County are eligible to receive vaccine in Tier 1 of Phase 1B. These include:

People 65 years or older.
People 50 years or older who live in multi-generational households (2 or more generations).

About 58,000 to 78,000 people in Pierce County are eligible to receive vaccine in Phase 1A. While we have made progress in 1A, some who are eligible in this phase haven’t gotten the vaccine yet. If you’re in 1A, make vaccine plans as soon as possible. You’re at high risk of COVID-19 infection. The goal is to get you vaccinated to keep you safe.

One of the strongest themes the State Department of Health heard from communities is the importance to prioritize older adults. They also heard very strongly about the unique risk for older adults in multi-generational households. Many people who live in these households may live with an essential worker who might bring potential work exposure home. COVID-19 disproportionately affects people of color, refugees, and immigrants who are more likely to live in multi-generational households. Prioritizing older adults in multi-generational households ensures protection of people in this high-risk group.

How many people have been vaccinated so far?

Based on the most recent available data, as of Jan. 9:

About 21,000 people who either live or work in Pierce County have received their first dose of vaccine. More than 5,000 people received the vaccine during the week of Jan. 4.
About 13,000 vaccine recipients are Pierce County residents.

How will I know when I’m eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine?

The State Department of Health has a Phase Finder tool that tells you if you’re eligible to get vaccine and where. Currently, Phase Finder is only for phases 1A and 1B. Soon, people in other eligible groups will be able to use it.

We know many of you are eager for your turn to get vaccinated. Vaccine supplies are still limited. Vaccination for the general public is still months away and may not start until the second quarter.

If you’re eligible for a vaccine, please get one as soon as you can. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. COVID-19 is still active in our community, so continue to practice healthy habits—even after you receive vaccine:

Wear your mask.
Wash or sanitize your hands often.
Practice physical distancing.
Keep gatherings small.
Stay home if you’re sick.
Get a flu shot.

Stay informed.
Since November 2020, we’ve published 11 blog posts about vaccine safety and efficacy, planning, and distribution:

Preparing for COVID-19 vaccine. (Nov. 19, 2020)
Yes, Tacoma-Pierce, we will get on the other side of this. (Dec. 11, 2020)
COVID-19 vaccine: The light at the end of the tunnel. (Dec. 14, 2020)
These extra vaccine safety steps will help keep us safe. (Dec. 17, 2020)
When can I expect to get the COVID-19 vaccine? (Dec. 18, 2020)
Who provides distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine? (Dec. 22, 2020)
Thousands of Pierce County residents have already received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Dec. 28, 2020)
We end a difficult year in Pierce County with hope and gratitude. (Dec. 31, 2020)
More people will soon be vaccine-eligible. A new tool will help find your place in line. (Jan. 6, 2021)
The careful work to vaccinate Pierce County as quickly as possible. (Jan. 7, 2021)
More people can get vaccinated soon. If you’re eligible, make plans now. (Jan. 15, 2021)

Sign up to receive alerts when we publish new blog posts and news releases at www.tpchd.org/notify.

Learn more at www.tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment to protect public health. We are one of roughly 244 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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