Coronavirus: Seattle healthcare workers receive first vaccinations in state

SEATTLE — A Seattle nurse was among the first people in Washington to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday.

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was opened Monday at a UW Medicine hospital in Seattle, marking a major turning point in the road to recovering from the pandemic.

About 62,000 doses are heading to Washington by the end of the week, with 340,000 doses in the state by the end of the year if the Moderna vaccine is approved.

But because Washington state has 414,000 people in healthcare and nursing homes who are first in line to be vaccinated, the number of doses expected this month is not enough to give them a single dose by the end of the year.

>>More: Coronavirus in Washington

The first doses were administered at a UW Medicine hospital in Seattle to frontline workers - including 13 from UW Medicine, five from Swedish hospitals and a Seattle Fire Department paramedic.

There were cheers and applause as the first person in the state, Harborview nurse Amy Fry, received the first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine.

“It’s an honor to be able to go first,” Fry said.

Each vial of the vaccine can keep five people from contracting COVID-19 during the pandemic that has raged for nearly a year. The vaccine requires a follow-up booster about three or four weeks after the first shot.

UW Medicine on Monday received about 3,900 doses for its hospitals: Harborview, Valley, Montlake and Northwest medical centers. Hospital officials say more vaccination clinics will open at all four campuses.

Intensive care unit workers at Seattle’s Harborview are expected to be vaccinated as soon as Thursday.

“Ultimately, we want to get everyone vaccinated. It’s going to take time for the health care workers in the first two to four weeks, then gradually into other high risk categories,” said UW Medicine chief medical officer Timothy Dellit.

MultiCare officials say their hospitals will receive a shipment on Thursday and staff are preparing to vaccinate as many employees as possible. Hospital officials say everyone who receives the vaccine will be monitored for 15 minutes afterward to check for possible reactions.

Swedish hospital officials say 3,900 doses of the vaccine will be administered over the next four days.