Over 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses given to high-risk health workers in Washington state as federal changes reduce statewide allocation

For immediate release: December 17, 2020    (20-253)Spanish

Media contact: Public Information Desk, 360-236-3529
Public inquiries: State COVID-19 Assistance Hotline, 1-800-525-0127

Over 1,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses given to high-risk health workers in Washington state as federal changes reduce statewide allocation

OLYMPIA – As of December 16 at midnight, providers in Washington state had reported giving a total of 1,159 COVID-19 vaccine doses to high-risk health workers. Vaccination began this week for Phase 1A groups, which include frontline health workers and long-term care residents and staff.  

Updated vaccine allocation numbers

The Department of Health (DOH) was contacted by Operation Warp Speed yesterday evening and told that Washington’s Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine allocation will be 44,850 doses rather than the 74,100 doses we were expecting to receive.

We were not given an explanation as to why our allocation was reduced, and we do not currently have allocation numbers beyond next week. We still expect to receive the remaining Pfizer-BioNTech doses we ordered for this first week (62,400 total doses).

“This reduction does not change our commitment to getting all allocated doses out to health care providers and people in Washington at risk of COVID-19,” said Secretary of Health John Wiesman. “Our focus is on the vaccines we are receiving and making sure health care providers and long-term care facilities are ready to give those vaccines. We are thankful we still have doses to allocate, and look forward to understanding our allocations beyond next week.”

Additional doses from vaccine vials

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday that health care providers may be able to draw additional doses from vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. This can potentially expand our supply of the vaccine by millions of doses nationwide. U.S. Health and Human Services regional offices are saying it is acceptable to use every full dose obtainable in each Pfizer-BioNTech vial. There is enough liquid in the vials when it is mixed to draw a sixth dose, or possibly even a seventh dose. Any remaining liquid that does not constitute a full dose should not be pooled from multiple vials to create one. 

Moderna vaccine

An FDA advisory panel today recommended the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The next step will be for the FDA to issue an EUA. If approved, the Moderna vaccine will be further vetted by the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

If approved by this workgroup, we expect to receive our first allocation of 128,000 Moderna vaccine doses early next week. Next week’s media briefing will include updates about this process. 

Future phases

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) plans to vote on who will be prioritized for Phases 1B and 1C this Sunday, Dec. 20. Equitable vaccine distribution is a top DOH priority. In addition to ACIP guidance, we are using feedback from the communities, partners, sectors and industries that are heavily impacted by COVID-19 in Washington state. Nearly 20,000 people weighed in through focus groups, interviews, and surveys. We will post our updated allocation and prioritization plans as soon as they’re ready.

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