How It Works – Heather Hill, RN, BSN
Frequently asked questions
What vaccine phase are we in?
- Washington State counties move together in phasing. As of Jan. 18, 2021, we are in Phase 1B Tier 1 (1B-1) The DOH has released a phase timeline to estimate when future phases will launch.
How do I find out what phase I am in?
- Phase Finder allows you to enter your zip code, and information about your circumstances, to help determine if you are eligible. If you do not qualify now, the application will notify you when you are eligible if you enter an email or phone number to text. Your information remains private and will not be used for any other purposes.
Can I get on a waiting list?
- The Health District is not maintaining a waiting list. There are many providers (health systems, health clinics, independent medical providers, and pharmacies) throughout our counties who have applied to or are providing vaccinations. It is up to the individual provider how they are coordinating appointments and waiting lists.
Where can I get vaccinated
- When your vaccine time comes, your provider will make you aware. We also anticipate pharmacies and clinics will provide vaccinations to those who do not have primary care providers.
- The Governor announced on Jan. 18, 2021 that a mass vaccination site will be launched at the Benton-Franklin County Fairgrounds in partnership with the National Guard and the DOH. BFHD will announce more information on a timeline and how to get your vaccine if you fall within the current phases.
I believe I have special circumstances to move up in phasing. How do I submit a request to get the vaccine sooner?
- There is currently no way to submit a request to move phasing as determined by the DOH. The WA State Vaccine Plan is a working document with information on vaccine rollout. You can submit feedback to the plan here.
I have medical exclusions. Is it safe for me to get vaccinated?
- BFHD cannot provide medical advice for your personal situation. If you are concerned about your personal safety for the vaccine, contact your primary care provider.
I am a medical provider. How do I get my staff vaccinated and how do I sign up to be a vaccine provider?
- Please navigate below for provider resources.
Information from the Washington State Department of Health (DOH)
Information From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
For Healthcare Providers
current vaccine phasing
Eventually, everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one. However, the vaccine is in limited supply. This means the vaccine is limited to specific populations that are at highest risk of either getting COVID-19 or having serious health problems if they are infected with COVID-19.
The DOH is working closely with the CDC and local public health departments in Washington to develop a COVID-19 vaccine distribution framework for our state.
Phase 1A – Tier 1:
- High-risk workers in health care settings and high-risk first responders to ensure that our medical system can respond to the medical needs of Washingtonians and that all workers with high-risk of exposure within these settings are considered within this first priority.
- Residents and staff of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and other community-based, congregate living settings where most people over 65 years of age are receiving care, supervision, or assistance to help our elders avoid hospitalizations, severe illness, or death.
Phase 1A – Tier 2 :
- All workers in health care settings
Phase 1B – Tier 1:
- All people 65 years of age and older
- Individuals 50 years and older who live in multigenerational households (at least two generations)
- Cannot live independently AND
- has an individual living with them who is a caregiver OR
- has an individual living with them who poses a risk to the older adult because he/she works outside the home
- Not intended for individuals age 50-69 who can live independently even if caring for child(ren)
- Cannot live independently AND
Phase 1B – Tier 2:
- High risk critical workers 50 years and older who work in certain congregate settings: Agriculture; food processing; grocery stores; K-12 (teachers and school staff); childcare; corrections, prisons, jails or detention facilities (staff); public transit; fire; law enforcement
Phase 1B – Tier 3:
- People 16 years and older with two or more co-morbidities or underlying conditions
Phase 1B – Tier 4:
- High-risk critical workers in certain congregate settings under 50 years
- People, staff and volunteers all ages in congregate living settings:
- Correctional facilities; group homes for people with disabilities; people experiencing homelessness that live in or access service in congregate settings
The goal for allocation guidance is to reduce severe illness and death, and to reduce the negative impacts to society from COVID-19.
Distribution, Access & Safety
- COVID-19 vaccine will not be widely available until 2021. Eventually everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one.
- There is not a way to apply for early distribution of the vaccine or to sign up on a waiting list.
- The first supplies of vaccine will be limited and given first to specific groups at highest risk, such as healthcare workers and individuals in senior living facilities (long-term care).
- When vaccine is widely available, healthcare clinics, pharmacies, and drive-through clinics will likely provide vaccinations. Vaccination sites will be well publicized in advance using local media outlets.
- The cost of the vaccine is free and providers may bill for the cost of giving the vaccine. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance will cover the cost of giving the vaccine. In addition, the cost of giving the vaccine will be covered for people who are uninsured.
- Vaccine safety is a priority. All COVID-19 vaccines must go through a rigorous and multi-step testing and approval process before they can be used. They will only be approved if they pass safety and effectiveness standards. Vaccines will also be monitored for safety once they are given.
- Only licensed and trained health professionals enrolled in the COVID vaccine program can give vaccinations.
- Your provider will let you know when vaccine is available for you, dependent upon your vaccine phase. Apps are being developed to let individuals in Washington State know when they are eligible to receive vaccination.
Vaccine Safety is a Priority
COVID-19 vaccines must go through rigorous clinical trials in which many thousands of study participants receive the vaccine. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) evaluates the scientific data from these studies to determine the safety and effectiveness of each vaccine. FDA relies on input from an advisory group of outside scientists and experts, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) to provide an objective and thorough analysis of safety and effectiveness. VRBPAC also makes recommendations to FDA about vaccine approval. This is a transparent process because VRBPAC meetings are open to the public.
If a vaccine meets the FDA’s safety and effectiveness standards, the FDA can make the vaccines available for use in the U.S. by traditional licensure or emergency use authorization.
After the FDA makes its determination, a second independent advisory body of outside immunization experts, the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), will review the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness data and make recommendations to the CDC with guidance for healthcare providers and the public about the use of the vaccine.
Vaccine Safety Monitoring
After a vaccine is authorized for use, multiple safety monitoring systems are in place to watch for possible side effects. If an unexpected serious side effect is detected, experts work as quickly as possible to determine whether it is a true safety concern. This serves as an ongoing evaluation of safety even after the clinical trials are completed. For COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC and FDA have expanded safety monitoring systems to carefully evaluate safety in real-time and make sure the COVID-19 vaccines are as safe as possible.
Some Vaccine Formulations Require More Than one Dose
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require more than one dose for optimum effectiveness. Both vaccines have shown an efficacy around 95% after the booster is taken approximately 21-28 days after the initial dose, depending upon the vaccine. Multiple formulations (different products) of vaccine are under development. How the vaccine is made, the number of doses required to provide protection against the COVID-19 virus, how it has to be stored and which populations can receive it varies from vaccine to vaccine. Individuals will likely not be able to choose which vaccine they receive.
Only Licensed and Trained Health Professionals Can Give Vaccinations
Only individuals who are licensed and trained to administer vaccines will be able to provide vaccination. Once the vaccine is more widely available to the public, many different types of healthcare providers will provide vaccinations in order to make the vaccine accessible for all who are interested in receiving it. These providers may administer vaccine both in clinics and hospitals and at more mobile or vaccination sites in the community.
Will a Vaccine End the Pandemic?
When Can I Stop Using Preventive Measures like Masking?
Preventive measures such as wearing masks, distancing, limiting gatherings and hand hygiene need to continue until we reach herd immunity. As defined by the Centers for Disease Control, herd immunity is when a population is immune to a disease, from prior illness and/or vaccination, to make spread (outbreaks) unlikely. It is currently not safe or recommended to let herd immunity occur through natural illness spread of COVID-19 due to the burden it would place on our medical system and the overall loss of life that would occur.