COVID-19 vaccinations underway; who’s next?

SEATTLE — By Wednesday morning, more than 400 high-risk health care workers had been vaccinated in Washington state.

UW Medicine expects to start vaccinating as many as 1,000 employees a day starting Friday.

A shipment of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Swedish on Tuesday, and vaccinations started the same day. Residents in long-term care are next. So who is after that?

“We still need to make decisions about who is coming next and in what order,” said Michele Roberts, with the Washington Department of Health.

The state is following guidance from the National Academy of Medicine, seeking community input and looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is expected to vote on recommendations for Tier 1B and 1C this weekend.

“Next week, we’ll be able to use that to further our decision-making, and we’ll be able to share who will be next,” Roberts said.

Terry Taylor is the president of the Alaska Association of Flight Attendants, Council 19. She wants flight attendants next on the list. She even argues they should be in the first group — with high-risk first responders.

“Now and again, people have strokes. They have heart attacks. They have mental health issues. A myriad of things that can happen on the ground where you would call 911 can happen in the air. They do,” said Taylor.

The health department announced it will take until mid-January to vaccinate everyone in the first group. When the next group starts depends on how many vaccine doses arrive in Washington.

Moderna is expected to get emergency use authorization later this week and is scheduled to ship 180,000 doses to the state by the end of the year.