Washington state's public health system has administered more than 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this year, with those numbers continuing to increase as children ages 5 to 11 can now get vaccinated.
In a typical year, the Department of Health and agencies statewide administer about 3 million doses through the childhood vaccination program.
Currently, 79.6% of Washington residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Soon, many 5- to 11-year-olds will be vaccinated against the virus.
The Department of Health has ordered more pediatric doses from the federal government amid high demand.
So far, more than 265,000 doses have been delivered to providers in the state, and going forward Washington providers will receive about 75,000 additional doses each week.
"We know there's more demand, so we've requested additional doses from the federal government," Michele Roberts, assistant secretary at the Department of Health, told reporters Wednesday.
Many pediatric vaccine clinics in Spokane County have filled up quickly, and state health officials asked for continued patience from parents as more doses arrive.
In Spokane County, more than 70 providers have signed up to administer pediatric vaccines, and Health Officer Dr. Francisco Velázquez said some providers are still receiving doses and getting ready to administer the vaccine.
The Spokane Regional Health District is offering several clinics in conjunction with public school districts, and some providers are hosting large vaccine clinics as well.
It is not too late to get vaccinated in time for holiday celebrations in November and December.
Patients who receive the first of the two-shot regimen of Moderna vaccine this week will be considered fully vaccinated by the week of Christmas. By next week, the same will be true for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week means a person could be fully vaccinated by the week of Thanksgiving.
As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, the virus continues to infect predominantly unvaccinated people.
While COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations are leveling off, or slightly decreasing, they remain at high rates, state health officials warned on Wednesday.
Locally, hospitals have seen a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU-use, but the health care system remains busy with rescheduling surgeries and procedures.
Velázquez said local ICU occupancy overall was at about 83%, and it was above 90% earlier this fall.
The COVID situation combined with traditional respiratory virus season, has health officials aware of the potential for things to shift as winter approaches.
State epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said the state is on the cusp of being able to turn around the fifth wave with children getting vaccinated and high-risk individuals getting booster doses.
"We are not out of this pandemic, and we're still having far too many people testing positive, getting hospitalized, and far too many people are losing their lives from this virus that is now largely preventable," State Secretary of Health Dr. Umair Shah said.
There continues to be a race against the virus, with both vaccine rates increasing and case counts continuing.
"If you want to protect yourself, you have to get vaccinated," Shah said.
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