King County opens new vaccine clinics, raises eligibility age

KING COUNTY, Wash. — Public Health - Seattle & King County is opening two new coronavirus vaccine clinics early next week.

The catch: you now have to be at least 75 years old to receive the vaccine.

In fact, just six days ago the county and everywhere else said anyone at least 65 years old was eligible.

But for the new clinics, the age requirement has just shot up.

“I am 67,” said Vicky Hartley. “I have an autoimmune disease.”

Hartley meets the state standard for the coronavirus vaccine and she has tried to get one.

“When I heard that the University of Washington was offering vaccine clinics,” Hartley said, “I tried to get on the UW site to schedule a vaccine.” But that didn’t work and the few times slots she eventually saw for a vaccine kept slipping away.

Then came a ray of hope.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Dow Constantine, I must say,” she said. “And I was so happy to learn that he was starting up sites in South King County because we’re a hotbed for COVID.”

Indeed, Public Health - Seattle & King County has been using the General Services Administration site in Auburn for COVID-19 testing.

Now come Monday, they will administer coronavirus vaccinations, too, and at the ShoWare Center in Kent.

But you must be at least 75 to qualify.

“We are very excited that two of the six lanes that have been used for COVID testing at the GSA site will now be used for vaccinations,” said Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus.

She says the city has no control over who can get the vaccines. But she has heard about those suddenly no longer eligible.

“I completely understand,” said Backus. “And if I had my way, it would be open up for everyone and there would be more than enough vaccinations be available.”

But the Feds, not the state, send out the allotments, she said. And there have been many reports about the supply of vaccines consistently falling short.

“I understand that,” said Hartley. “But then we’re hearing things like people jumping the queue.”

Hartley said she can cite several instances where the vaccine rollout feels anything but equitable.

“It’s horribly frustrating,” she said.

And she said the frustration is even greater for her many of her neighbors who don’t have internet access.

The state Department of Health is providing toll-free numbers 1-800-525-0127 and 1-888-856-5816, press # and sign up.

King County plans to give out 500 doses per day, six days a week. Once the supply increases, health officials say they will change the requirements.

Everyone will have to pre-register before the clinics to get vaccinated.