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Seattle's Lumen Field to open Saturday as mass vaccination site; goal to serve 20K a day at capacity

Seattle Post-Intelligencer logo Seattle Post-Intelligencer 3/10/2021 By Becca Savransky, SeattlePI
© Ted S. Warren, AP

Seattle on Saturday will open its mass vaccination clinic at Lumen Field Event Center, a site officials said will be the largest civilian-run vaccination site in the country at peak capacity.

The site will be open two to three days a week to start and the city is hoping to vaccinate about 5,000 people per week initially. Once the city has more supply, the site will be able to serve more than 20,000 people per day, officials said.

"We know that Seattle's road to recovery goes right through the road of vaccinations," Mayor Jenny Durkan said during a news conference Wednesday. "With Lumen Field, we are taking an enormous step forward and reaching our goal to be one of the first cities in the country to reach that 70% threshold of vaccinations."

The site will be open to anyone currently eligible to get the coronavirus vaccine under the state's prioritization. People who are eligible for the vaccine now can sign up here. At the site, there will be several different lines, including one specifically for people who need a little more time — such as those with language barriers or disabilities.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee celebrated the state's efforts so far in vaccinating people across Washington and talked about how the opening of Lumen Field would significantly add to the state's capacity.

"Yesterday, Washington State was named for the second year in a row the best state to live in in the United States. And there's a reason for that," Inslee said. "It's because we believe in science, we believe in working together and because we're working together, we're going to vaccinate Washingtonians like crazy at Lumen Field."

Inslee said the new vaccination site is dedicated to giving everyone access to the vaccine, including those who have struggled to make appointments due to technology barriers.

"We want equitable access to this vaccine," Inslee said. "This site is going to make sure that we get it."

Throughout the city's vaccination effort, it has worked to distribute vaccines equitably and to prioritize communities of color and others who have been disproportionately impacted by the spread of the coronavirus, Durkan said.

"Because this virus and because of systemic inequities in our society, communities of color has suffered the most in this pandemic, both on the health and the economic impacts," Durkan said. "At our city sites, we are proud that over 70% of the people we've vaccinated identify from the BIPOC communities."

Washington in recent weeks has been speeding up its vaccination rollout. As of March 6, Washington was vaccinating an average of 45,380 people per day over the previous seven days, meeting its target of vaccinating at least 45,000 people per day. More than 17% of people across the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine and nearly 10% are fully vaccinated.

The state is hoping to keep up the pace, but that will largely depend on the supply it receives from the federal government.

In the coming weeks, Washington is expecting to receive between 320,000 and 330,000 vaccine doses. Of those, about 163,000 will be first doses and the rest will be second doses.

Although supply is increasing, the state is still not receiving enough vaccine to meet all of the requests from providers.

Washington is expecting to start getting more shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — which was recently approved and requires only one dose — by the end of March. This will help add to the state's supply.

The state is still working to vaccinate adults 65 and older in the first tier of Phase 1B of Washington's rollout. So far, about 57% of people 65 and older across the state have received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 35% are fully vaccinated.

Last week, Inslee announced educators and child care workers would also be immediately eligible to receive the vaccine after a directive from President Joe Biden asking states to prioritize educators, adding thousands of people to the current phase. Officials hope this will help teachers to feel more comfortable returning to the classroom, but Inslee has said school buildings can reopen safely even before all teachers are vaccinated.

In the coming weeks, Inslee said Washington will expand eligibility to essential workers in certain congregate settings, including grocery store workers and first responders who weren't eligible in previous phases. By April, people living with two or more comorbidities and residents, staff and volunteers living in congregational living settings are expected to be eligible.

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