On Feb. 1, King County launched two COVID-19 community vaccination sites to expand vaccine access to vulnerable older adults in south King County. The new sites will reach those who are at highest risk from COVID and face barriers to accessing the vaccine through traditional healthcare systems. These sites will also help King County scale up vaccination efforts quickly and serve the broader community when more vaccine becomes available.
“I share the frustration of not having enough vaccine from manufacturers,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “We are determined to build the distribution infrastructure to quickly and fairly get shots to eligible people as soon as those doses are available, and to expand capacity ahead of the increasing supply.”
Reaching our vulnerable community members
People age 75 and older have endured much higher rates of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 than any other group and face more challenges to getting vaccinated, such as transportation barriers and more limited Internet access. In King County, 66 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 have been among those 75 and older, compared to those ages 65 to 74, who account for 19 percent of total deaths.
“With a limited supply of vaccine, we need to make the best use of every dose that comes to King County,” said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health—Seattle & King County. “The new high-volume vaccine sites will help us get life-saving vaccine to the highest risk King County residents. We’re taking an equitable approach by starting in the part of our county that’s been hardest hit by COVID-19.”
While the vaccine supply remains limited, the Kent and Auburn sites will focus on vaccinating highest-risk south King County residents ages 75 and older, individuals who are unable to live independently and their caregivers. Appointment availability will expand to individuals age 65–74 as vaccine supply increases. Older adults in south King County are at particularly high risk, as rates of COVID-19 in many parts of south King County have been nearly twice as high compared to the county average.
Currently, both vaccine supply and appointments are limited. Public Health—Seattle & King County has received enough vaccine doses from the state to begin operating the two sites at 500 doses per day, six days a week.
To help ensure access for those most at risk, registration is currently open only to residents of south King County who are:
- Age 75 and older OR
- A family caregiver or home care worker taking care of someone age 50+ who cannot live independently. The caregiver or home care worker does not need to be age 50+ OR
- Specific groups of people age 50 and older:
- Unable to live independently and receiving care from a caregiver, relative, in-home caregiver or someone who works outside the home OR
- Living with AND caring for kin (examples include caring for a grandchild, niece, or nephew. This does not include parents living with their child).
Vaccination at either South County site requires an appointment:
- Online: Register on Public Health—Seattle & King County’s Getting Vaccinated in King County webpage OR
- Phone: Call Washington State’s COVID-19 Assistance Hotline at 1-800-525-0127, then press # for help with registration by phone. For language interpretation, state your preferred language when you are connected.
Residents may experience delays, or it may take time before appointments are available due to anticipated high demand. This will get easier as the vaccine supply increases.
The sites are open to individuals with appointments Monday through Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at:
- Kent—accesso ShoWare Center (625 W James St). Park or arrive by transit (Metro routes 150, 162, and 183), and enter the building. Wheelchair accessible.
- Auburn—General Services Administration (GSA) Complex (2701 C St SW). This is a drive-through site.
Vaccination efforts to-date
The number of people who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine continues to rise. In King County, as of January 28, 174,000 people had received at least one dose. King County and medical system partners has made great progress in vaccinating healthcare workers and staff and residents in long-term care facilities, including 100 percent of King County nursing home residents.
Public Health is also coordinating mobile vaccination teams with local fire departments to reach highest risk adults who cannot get to vaccination sites, including staff and residents of Adult Family Homes and vulnerable older adults living in low-income senior housing and permanent supportive housing.
Current supplies are not enough to meet the need. Doses coming into Washington are insufficient to reach eligible adults. King County has approximately 300,000 people who are eligible for the vaccine under Phase 1B1 of the Washington State Vaccine COVID-19 Distribution Plan, which includes people over 65 years of age. But in the week starting January 25, King County only received 22,000 first doses. That’s enough for one person in 12 who are eligible.
While supply continues to be uncertain, Public Health—Seattle & King County is working closely with businesses and community partnerships to be ready to stand up several vaccine access points across King County.
Compiled with information provided by Public Health—Seattle & King County. For more information, visit www.kingcounty.gov/COVID.
Here’s what people have to say
“As a family caregiver for my frail mother, I know we are one of many in BIPOC and refugee and immigrant communities who take care of our elders at home, and have been bearing a disproportionate toll of the impact of COVID as we forego outside help and livelihoods in order to keep our loved ones safe. Thank you to Public Health—Seattle & King County for prioritizing access for South King County residents, and for expanding on state guidance to include family caregivers of elders in home care.”—Trang Tu, family caregiver
“We’re eager to connect our 2,500 low-income, mostly immigrant and refugee seniors, and people with disabilities living at home with the vaccine. We’ve been helping to allay vaccine fears and will help arrange transportation to vaccine appointments. Until the vaccine is readily available, communities with the least access need to be prioritized.”—Janice Deguchi, Neighborhood House
“I want to thank the County for taking Kent up on its offer to use the accesso ShoWare Center to provide vaccines. The sooner we can get supply and administer the vaccine, the sooner we can put COVID-19 in our rear-view mirror and move toward recovery.” —Dana Ralph, Mayor of Kent
“We are grateful to King County, Public Health—Seattle & King County and all of our partners for once again pulling in resources to south King County, where the need is the greatest. Auburn is a resilient and caring community—we are ready and will continue to do our part to accelerate vaccinations and improved health in King County.”—Nancy Backus, Mayor of Auburn
“Older adults have expressed frustration, confusion, and anxiety about how and where to obtain a vaccine. With the opening of vaccination sites in Auburn and Kent, older adults in south King County will now have greater access to vaccine appointments, as well as a location that is closer to home.”—Doug Shadel, AARP Washington
“We need to do everything we can to remove barriers that prevent South King County community members from getting a vaccine once they become eligible. By establishing these high-volume sites, King County stands prepared to move quickly once those vaccines become available.”—Dave Upthegrove, King County Councilmember
“These vaccination sites will ensure that we have the infrastructure in place to quickly and efficiently push out doses as soon as they’re made available by the federal government and private industry.”—Reagan Dunn, King County Councilmember
“As our region has struggled with COVID-19 infections, South King County has been particularly hard hit. By increasing the access to vaccines in the South end, we will be able protect some of our most vulnerable residents and help fight this virus.”—Pete von Reichbauer, King County Councilmember
“The General Services Administration is proud to continue its partnership with our regional and local government agencies to vaccinate members of our communities. This combined effort is vital to containing the virus, saving lives, and is an example of federal, state, and local governments working together for the benefit of its citizens.”—Chaun Benjamin, Public Buildings Service Regional Commissioner, Northwest/Arctic Region