City’s focus switching to mobile clinics as some vaccination sites close in Seattle

SEATTLE — As COVID-19 mandates lift in Washington, some vaccination sites are closing in Seattle.

According to Mayor Bruce Harrell, 90% of people in the city are vaccinated.

Because of that, some city-operated clinics are shutting down as the city moves toward mobile vaccination clinics.

The first clinics to close were mass vaccination sites such as what used to be at Lumen Field. Now, what used to be permanent sites, like one in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, are also closing.

They will be replaced with two mobile teams made up of Seattle firefighters and nurses from the Othello Station Pharmacy who will set up pop-up vaccination clinics.

Ahmed Ali is executive director of the pharmacy. He and his staff have hosted popups for Seattle schools. They will even make house calls for anyone who is vaccine hesitant or has mobility issues.

“There’s still a large number of the communities, particularly the BIPOC population in South King County, that need to be given the opportunity to get their boosters,” said Ali.

Ali estimates that about 15 to 20 customers come into his store each day wanting to get vaccinated. Many times they are people from areas like Tukwila, Kent or SeaTac.

For that reason Ali thinks the focus on vaccinations should be in South King County.

In King County, vaccination rates among children ages 5 to 11 steadily drop from north to south.

In the South Seattle area where Ali works, the vaccination rate is roughly 65%, but in places like Renton and Burien its about 34%.

Ali said he thinks they can reach unvaccinated populations by offering pop-up clinics in the Seattle area.

“They can walk in, they don’t need an appointment. That’s really good for families that are working 9 to 5,” said Ali.

The focus is also shifting to home testing to prevent the spread of the virus. The state health department is now encouraging people to stock their medicine cabinets with COVID-19 tests.

Washington households can now order a free COVID test kit directly to their homes twice a month, while supplies last. Each order contains five tests.

The thought is that if people order two test kits every month, they will be prepared if another large wave of a COVID-19 variant emerges. During the height of the omicron variant, there was a major shortage of home test kits.

The tests can be ordered from WA DOH at https://www.sayyescovidhometest.org/.

The program aims to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by testing at home. Health officials say people who don’t have symptoms can still spread the virus, so testing is critical to know if you’re infected.

DOH officials said frequent testing is especially important for those with more exposure outside the home, such students or people who spend time in a group setting, whether vaccinated or not.

Even if you don’t have symptoms and have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the health department said people should consider using a self-test before joining indoor gatherings with people who are outside of their household.

Find a list of frequently asked questions about testing here.

More information about at-home tests can be found on the CDC’s Self-Testing Guidance page.