Seattle Set to Vaccinate Older, Vulnerable Adults in Supportive Housing in Next Round of Mobile Vaccination Effort

by Carolyn Bick

Seattle’s older adults living in supportive housing will be the next in line for vaccinations against the novel coronavirus offered by the City’s mobile vaccine clinics, the Office of the Mayor announced in a press release on Jan. 22. This newest mobile vaccination effort began on Jan. 21 and includes older adults who had formerly experienced homelessness and who now receive wraparound case management services, as well as older, low-income adults living in affordable housing.

Seattle Fire Department (SFD) Chief Harold Scoggins and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the creation of the mobile teams last week. Each team is staffed by an SFD emergency medical technician, who administers the vaccine, and two civilians, who record data. The teams were focused first on adults living and working in adult family homes, particularly those in Seattle’s South End. The goal was to vaccinate 1,000 people in the following two weeks, a goal the press release said the mobile teams are close to meeting.

This next round of mobile vaccination efforts focus on both home health care workers and older, vulnerable adults living in permanent supportive housing and affordable housing, the press release said.

“This effort includes permanent supportive housing complexes for older formerly homeless individuals who receive wraparound case management services. At these complexes, residents often share congregate spaces, including kitchens and bathrooms,” the press release said. “The SFD teams will also begin to vaccinate older, low-income adults living in affordable housing.” 

These teams will set up pop-up vaccination clinics in locations operated by Bellwether Housing, Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (CCSWW), Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda), and Seattle Housing Authority (SHA).

The press release said that Public Health – Seattle & King County was consulted, with regards to making these priority locations for the mobile vaccination teams.

“The Seattle Fire Department expects to vaccinate between 100 and 150 residents affiliated with each organization, and the City expects it will use 100% of its weekly DOH dosage by [Jan.] 26 and receive an additional 1,000 doses next week,” the press release said.

The City has also partnered with Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 for a specific partnership to vaccinate 300 SEIU 775 members at a one-day pop-up clinic, with a second dose scheduled for four weeks later. This particular SEIU represents 45,000 home care workers who are eligible for vaccination under Phase 1A in the State’s vaccination guidance timeline, the press release said.

“Home care workers — like those represented by SEIU 775 — are disproportionately Black, People of Color, and limited-English speakers, who don’t have a common worksite, and are more likely to be uninsured,” the press release said. “As such, many King County-based home care workers have not yet been vaccinated despite their A1 eligibility and close proximity to extremely high-risk communities, including older adults and people with multiple comorbidities.”

So far, the press release said, the mobile vaccination teams have vaccinated 670 residents and workers at 81 adult family homes and two permanent supportive housing buildings in Seattle. SFD expects to complete this first round of doses by today, Jan. 22, and the second round of doses by Feb. 21. As Durkan announced last week in the press conference regarding the City’s mobile vaccination efforts, the City is working to vaccinate residents and workers at all Seattle adult family homes that aren’t served by the federal government’s partnership with chain pharmacies CVS and Walgreens. 

“[Adult family homes] are often much smaller and less resourced than other long-term care facilities, and as such, were not initially included in the federal program,” the press release said. “The federal government eventually updated their program to include these facilities, but did not extend the application deadline, meaning that many [adult family homes] were excluded from the vaccination effort.”

The press release said that the City has received 1,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine and will receive another 1,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from the state DOH on Jan. 26. The press release also said the City will continue to focus its vaccination efforts on the most vulnerable communities at risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19 and that the “1,000-dose cadence will likely continue until the vaccine supply chain increases.” Durkan, along with other mayors across the country, called on the new Biden-Harris administration last week to allocate doses of vaccines directly to cities.

Carolyn Bick is a local journalist and photographer. As the Emerald’s Watchdragon reporter, they dive deep into local issues to keep the public informed and ensure those in positions of power are held accountable for their actions. You can reach them here and can check out their work here and here.

Featured Image: A Rainier Beach novel coronavirus mobile testing site. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

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