“Help is on the way,” Governor Inslee said on Tuesday.
The governor said he learned on a call with other U.S. governors and members of the White House administration, more details about vaccines currently under FDA review. A vaccine for COVID-19 is expected to arrive in Washington state by mid- to late-December. Furthermore, the state and local agencies are planning for the distribution of vaccine.
Dr. Chris Spitters with Snohomish County Health District said on Tuesday that the county, health district, and office of emergency management are preparing for the vaccine’s arrival.
“If the FDA, and then subsequently, the CDC’s review of the data concur that these are safe and effective vaccines appropriate for use, we could begin to see the first doses of COVID vaccine shipped to our area within mid- to late-December,” Spitters said.
He said that those first to get the limited supply of vaccine will be health workers, first responders, highly vulnerable populations like nursing homes, and other older people who are at high risk. Spitters said the distribution of vaccine will likely take 6-9 months, which doesn’t solve our current issues or get us closer to “normal” for many months.
Jason Biermann, with the Department of Emergency Management, said planning in Snohomish County for distribution started in August. Last week, his team completed the first draft and a tabletop exercise of that plan. He estimates participating agencies can distribute the vaccine to about 160,000 people per week.
“Most of those vaccines will go through normal channels — through the existing health care system,” Biermann said, reminding people that the vaccines currently under review will require two doses.
“We will work our way through it so everyone has access to the vaccine,” Gov. Inslee said.
The governor added that while the timeline provides us hope, we must remain vigilant with mask wearing and social distancing efforts.
Inslee isn’t the only one hopeful by the time frame. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 30,000 points for the first time Tuesday as progress in the development of coronavirus vaccines and news that the transition of power in the U.S. to President-elect Joe Biden will finally begin kept investors in a buying mood.
The gains extend a monthlong market rally driven by growing optimism that development of coronavirus vaccines and treatments will loosen the pandemic’s stranglehold on the economy. They also mark a rapid climb for the Dow from its March 23 low of just under 18,600 during the worst of its early pandemic nosedive.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.