The trillion-dollar company that counts itself among one of the few businesses absolutely raking it in during the COVID-19 lockdowns would like you to know that it has partnered with Virginia Mason to run a pop-up vaccination site at the Amazon Meeting Center in South Lake Union from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. this Sunday.
At the one-day event, Virginia Mason volunteers plan to administer 2,000 vaccines to anyone who is eligible regardless of insurance status. Find out if you're eligible for the jab with the state's PhaseFinder tool, and hop on the hospital's waiting list here.
Amazon's senior vice president of global corporate affairs, Jay Carney, announced the temporary site at Governor's Inslee's press conference on Thursday. The company will also lend one of its executives to the Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center to, ya know, "leverage our operations, information technology, logistics and communications" in ways that can help put more vaccines in arms, Carney said. Carney concluded by mentioning a plan to pay a third-party occupational health provider to administer the vaccine to eligible recipients at their own fulfillment centers.
I didn't hear much about Amazon coming out in support of any statewide or federal taxes to help pay for chronically underfunded public health departments tasked with standing up mass vaccination sites all over the state while using antiquated and disparate systems in an already hopelessly fragmented health care system, but I do want to take this moment to thank them for chipping in. (At the press conference, Gov. Inslee said "[Amazon has] not asked for any recompense" for their assistance, and he's "hopeful they’ll continue to help us...in additional ways." So I guess there's still time for growth, but I'm not holding my breath.)
Meanwhile, Snohomish County is already running three mass vaccination sites, and they have plans to open several more. King County committed to opening two sites in the southern part of the county by Feb 1 and then ten total at some point. By next week, the state Department of Health plans to stand up sites in Spokane, Kennewick, Wenatchee, and Ridgefield.
The directors for all these health departments all say they could speed up the process of planning for and building these sites if only they could count on more vaccine supply coming down the pike. In order to meet Inslee's goal of vaccinating 45,000 Washingtonians per day, Inslee said the federal government would need to "triple" their production, as we've been already vaccinating more people per day than the feds can keep up with dosage-wise. The Governor said he didn't know when he'd learn more about increased supply but expressed confidence in "having a partner in the White House who can really help us." According to the New York Times, the country's vaccine supply likely won't increase until April.
In the last couple weeks that state has slowly increased its vaccine allocation rate from 26% on Jan 8 to 44% today (or 52% if you don't count the vaccines meant for long term care patients, which private pharmacies deliver via a program the federal government runs).
So far Washington health care providers have received nearly 830,000 doses of the vaccine but have only put 362,000 doses in arms. Inslee said those numbers, which still feel a little low considering, put us "13th in the nation now for vaccines that have taken place." That's true for number of shots given, but the state ranks 33rd in terms of percentage of population given at least one shot, according to a New York Times tally.
State health department officials cite numerous reasons for the low numbers, including a lack of transparency from the feds regarding the number of people in long term care facilities that they've actually vaccinated and data-lagging/communication issues related to a reliance on older and disparate immunization systems. However, Washington health secretary Dr. Umair Shah pointed to the growing percentage of vaccine allocations as evidence that things will get better.