Virus vaccine distributed at site of first deadly cluster

KIRKLAND, Wash. (AP) — The residents and staff members at a Seattle-area nursing home that had the first deadly COVID-19 outbreak in the United States began receiving vaccines on Monday.

The first death associated with the Life Care Center of Kirkland, Washington, was reported in late February, and more than 40 people connected to the facility later died of coronavirus.

The Seattle Times reports that Monday was the first day long-term care facilities can receive vaccines under a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens, which is handling shots for the bulk of the state’s approximately 4,000 long-term care facilities.

Along with health-care workers, Washington state has recommended that nursing home residents receive the vaccine first, followed by residents of assisted-living facilities, adult family homes and other care sites. State officials have set a goal for all residents to receive the first dose of the two-dose vaccine by the end of January.

“I think everyone in the skilled nursing industry is thankful that a vaccine is available and being administered, but it means a little more to see vaccinations happening at Kirkland,” Ellie Schutt, executive director of Life Care Center of Kirkland, said in a statement.

Also on Monday, the Department of Social and Health Services said a third patient at Washington state’s largest psychiatric hospital died last week due to COVID-19. The Western State Hospital patient had been at a local hospital for several weeks because of COVID-19 symptoms and died on Thursday, the agency said in a news release.

“We are saddened that this virus has taken another one of our patients,” Sean Murphy, assistant secretary for DSHS’ Behavioral Health Administration, said.

The first patient from Western State Hospital died in March due to the virus. A second also died last week. Currently, there are eight staff and three patients from Western who are positive with COVID-19, officials said.

Since the start of the pandemic there have been more than 236,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Washington state and more than 3,180 deaths.