Update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution & planning progress in Washington State

Contact: Lisa Stromme Warren, Communications, 360-628-7883

Update on COVID-19 vaccine distribution & planning progress in Washington State

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) continues to make progress with our COVID-19 vaccine distribution planning efforts.

Our federal government is leading the planning efforts around the release of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, including who the initial doses would be offered to and how it would be distributed. They have shared their planning assumptions with the states and are planning to release more detailed guidance to states this month.

While we still do not know when a vaccine might be available, when a safe and effective vaccine is available, we will be prepared to deploy it in a manner that is equitable and timely for the people of Washington.

“DOH is committed to science and the need to critically evaluate these new vaccines for their safety and efficacy in an unbiased way before their use,” said Dr. Kathy Lofy, State Health Officer. “We will be watching the FDA approval process closely to make sure it is thorough and transparent.”

While some plans cannot be completed until we know what the final vaccine candidates are, we are doing as much as we can now to make sure the process run smoothly when it starts. When a vaccine is approved and released, we initially will not have enough to offer it to everyone. The federal government will determine which populations will be initially prioritized to be offered the vaccine.

There are two national groups working on prioritization recommendations. One is the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the second is the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Both these groups have released draft recommendations on who will be offered the vaccine first.

States may need to further prioritize groups to offer vaccine to because we initially may not have enough vaccine to cover all the highest priority groups.

The CDC will primarily manage COVID-19 vaccine distribution. We are working with the federal government and local partners within Washington to plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.

Since there are a number of decisions that need to be made, we are engaging and coordinating with tribes, local government, community leaders, and others partners to develop and implement vaccination efforts.

 In the future, our plan is to update you once a week on where we are with planning efforts so that we can keep the public up-to-date with what we know.