Dept. of Health to change vaccine allocation strategy

Vaccine Phial

OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) announced they will start allocating COVID vaccines based on individual provider requests in addition to population size, instead of county population size alone.

Each week, providers will continue to order the amount of vaccines they need and DOH will receive weekly input from local health jurisdictions on community vaccine priorities. This method will allow DOH to to distribute vaccines to the communities that need them most, while also giving extra doses to providers who continue to see higher need for vaccines.

In the previous approach, pro-rata, DOH allocated to counties proportionally to match the size of their populations. However as vaccine supply increased, the number of doses requested didn’t always align with the county pro-rata allocations.

“While the pro-rata driven model worked well for the first few months of vaccine distribution, now that nearly 30% of Washingtonians are fully vaccinated, it is time to adjust our approach in support of our goals to vaccinate more Washingtonians as equitably, quickly, and efficiently as possible,” said Lacy Fehrenbach, Deputy Secretary of the COVID-19 response.

To ensure providers across the state have doses available to vaccinate community members, DOH will offer flexibility to certain providers with throughput and usage. This includes providers who serve smaller communities, support equity efforts and/or reach special populations, such as hospitals that transfer patients to long-term care facilities.

“Vaccine continues to be the most critical tool we have to end the pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Michele Roberts. “The allocation change will help ensure vaccine continues to reach all communities across the state, while also focusing on areas where it has been more difficult for people to find open appointments.”