Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Rain 36° Rain
News >  Health

Inslee: Washington increasing access to boosters, vaccines ahead of omicron

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee puts on a mask after speaking at a news conference Aug. 18 at the Capitol in Olympia.  (Associated Press)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee puts on a mask after speaking at a news conference Aug. 18 at the Capitol in Olympia. (Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – With the omicron variant likely on its way to Washington and demand for boosters high, the state is working to increase access to COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Jay Inslee said.

Inslee said the state saw a 75% increase in the number of people using the Department of Health vaccine locator in the past three days. But he warns it may take some time for everyone to get their dose.

“Demand for boosters has skyrocketed,” he said.

California, Minnesota, Colorado and New York have all confirmed cases of the omicron variant.

The state is expecting to receive 80,000 doses from the federal government in the coming weeks. The federal government will also open a FEMA mobile clinic in south King County. It will serve about 300 people a day and be open to both children and adults who want to get their first dose or their booster.

President Joe Biden on Thursday announced plans to increase access to testing nationwide. He plans to do that by offering free at-home COVID-19 testing for Americans.

Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said the state will work to increase at-home testing capacity, but the supply doesn’t exist yet.

Health officials won’t know more about omicron for a few weeks, but Inslee said the state has adequate testing and genotyping capability to detect the variant when it arrives. Until then, the best way people can protect themselves is by getting vaccinated, Inslee said.

Shah urged everyone to get vaccinated and boosted “not just because of omicron.” The state is still coming off its delta surge, and winter often brings other respiratory diseases.

With about 33% of residents not receiving any dose of the vaccine, Inslee said access to vaccines is not entirely the problem.

“It’s the lack of people willing to get it,” he said.

Here’s a look at today’s numbers:

The Spokane Regional Health District reported 159 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. There are 67 people hospitalized with the virus in Spokane.

One additional death from the virus was reported Thursday, bringing the total to 1,099.

The Panhandle Health District reported 119 new COVID-19 cases Thursday. It reported no additional deaths. There have been 717 deaths due to the virus.

There are 73 Panhandle residents hospitalized with the virus.

Laurel Demkovich'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.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.