First day of expanded vaccine eligibility comes day before Pierce County’s rollback to Phase 2

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — The first day of the state’s expanded vaccine eligibility saw a 100% success rate at a mass vaccination site held by Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, which administered every single dose it set aside for the clinic.

More than 1,500 people were administered the Moderna vaccine at Clover Park Technical College in Tacoma. Every appointment scheduled was for a first dose, including a majority of people who became eligible Thursday.

“We’ve been wanting to get it as soon as possible, so we booked the first day we could,” Gary Martindale said in his car after receiving his first dose.

“I was kind of expecting maybe like towards summer or end of summer,” Heather Martindale said while sitting next to her husband. “So when it was announced that it was going to be May or April, I was excited.”

“I swear I’d do it the first day available, and I did,” Robert Jimenez said in his car after receiving his first dose. “It feels good to have it done.”

Starting April 15, every Washingtonian 16 and older became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Popularly deemed “Vax Day,” the first day of eligibility for all Washington adults also fell on the last day before Pierce County rolled back into phase 2.

The reasoning behind the rollback has generated some back-and-forth between Pierce County officials and Gov. Jay Inslee. While some officials place partial blame on the state for not providing enough vaccines to Pierce County, Inslee said allocating additional vaccines would have little effect and pointed to a lack of mask-wearing and social distancing.

“People are kind of stopping wearing masks in public, which I find kind of shocking and appalling,” Marita Trohimovich, a Pierce County resident who was also administered a Moderna vaccine the first day she became eligible, said. “I think (vaccines are) going to help for sure, but it’s everything: You’ve got to get vaccines in arms; plus, you got to wear the masks. Plus, you got to maintain social distances and not have parties. Sure, it’s lame. But we’ve got to do it. It’s all part of the equation.”