HHS secretary visits Lumen Field vaccine site

SEATTLE — On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra visited the mass vaccination site at Lumen Field.

At full capacity, the site can vaccinate 22,000 people a day, making it the largest civilian-run mass vaccination site in the country.

Becerra was impressed with the number of volunteers and was surprised to learn they were from competing hospital systems, even though the site is run by Swedish. Swedish and Seattle leaders expressed how it requires a team effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“We’ve got work to do. We’re not done, and I think the mayor made that clear. We still have to get a whole bunch of folks vaccinated,” said Becerra. “It is great to see, no confusion. I don’t see any angry faces. I just see a lot of people anxious to get their shot.”

With the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases sweeping the state, health officials said getting as many people vaccinated as possible is the fastest way out.

“We finally have enough vaccinations to get anybody who wants a vaccination, a vaccination,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. “If you have not signed up, sign up today.”

So far, about 30% of the state is fully vaccinated, according to the Washington Department of Health.

But another statistic has officials concerned. They said 13% of people who got their first dose are more than a week late for their second dose.

Now at Lumen Field, you can sign up to get a second dose even if your first dose was somewhere else.

Public Health Seattle and King County are also making it easier to sign up for the mass vaccination sites in Kent and Auburn, as people no longer need to live in South King County.

The surge in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are expected to force several counties back to phase 2, including Snohomish County and King County. Pierce County was already bumped back to phase 2 and is likely to fall back to phase 1.

The state will make the decision on Monday, but it won’t be announced until Tuesday. That will give the state time to use the latest data.