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All Washington residents ages 16 and older eligible for vaccines starting Thursday

UPDATED: Wed., April 14, 2021

No more phases or questions, Washington.

Starting Thursday, all Washington residents who are 16 and older may get the COVID-19 vaccine statewide, although demand will likely outpace supply again.

There are available appointments at the Spokane Arena mass vaccination site, at providers such as MultiCare, CHAS and others offering clinics and at local pharmacies in the coming weeks.

To find a vaccine appointment, visit the state’s Vaccine Locator tool or call (800) 525-0127, then press #.

There will not be enough doses to accommodate the more than 1 million people who become eligible Thursday.

“It will take time, which is why I want to emphasize the need for patience,” Michele Roberts, Washington assistant secretary of health, said Wednesday.

Dose allocations coming to Washington state are forecast to be less than last week, with 364,700 total doses of Moderna and Pfizer vaccine coming to the state next week. Of those, a little more than half are first doses.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is still on pause over rare reports of blood clots, meaning there is one less option for those seeking a shot.

For 16- and 17-year-olds, guardians must hunt for clinics that are offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Moderna’s vaccine is only for adults 18 and older.

While more than 57,000 vaccines are being administered daily in Washington, COVID-19 cases are still increasing, including in Spokane County.

The current rise in new cases is due largely to a combination of spring break, March Madness gatherings and Easter, Interim Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez told reporters Wednesday.

While hospitalizations locally have not started to increase yet, they still might, in accordance with the uptick in virus activity in the community.

As cases increase, hospitalizations usually do too, and Velázquez said that while hospitalizations in older populations have decreased, there are residents from ages 20 to 49 locally who are being hospitalized with the virus.

Statewide and locally, the U.K. and California variants are part of the reason transmission is increasing, Acting State Health Officer Dr. Scott Lindquist said on Wednesday.

“Lots of people in these age groups are at all the places where outbreaks are: bars, restaurants and travel(ing),” Lindquist said, noting that those behaviors and variants are leading to an increase in cases in young people.

As of last week, there are 1,049 cases of the California B.1.429 variant statewide and 500 cases of the U.K. variant. These numbers represent the sample of positive test results that were geo-sequenced by several labs statewide, meaning there are likely more cases out there. Both of these variants have been found to transmit more easily from person to person, and could increase hospitalizations as a result.

State health officials asked that people continue to follow public health guidance and be patient as more vaccines will be coming into the state in the coming weeks. Now that all people 16 and over are eligible to get the vaccine, vaccinations can take place in environments where transmission has been high, especially among young adults and on college campuses.

State Secretary of Health Umair Shah said the state is at a difficult place, with case counts increasing while vaccination efforts continue to ramp up .

“If we do not continue to remind ourselves of the preventive precautions, we’ll see similar waves as are seen across the country, and we don’t want that to happen,” he said.

Here’s a look at local numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District confirmed 71 new cases on Wednesday. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 in Spokane County is 594, and this number will continue to fluctuate for another week as the Department of Health is reconciling death data with the district.

There are 41 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in Spokane .

The Panhandle Health District confirmed 36 new virus cases on Wednesday and two additional deaths. There have been 290 Panhandle residents who have died due to COVID-19.

There are 36 Panhandle residents hospitalized for COVID-19.

Arielle Dreher's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.

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