King County Council to introduce push for accelerated vaccine roll-out

On Tuesday, four King County councilmembers plan to introduce legislation that aims to get the ball rolling on distributing the COVID-19 vaccine faster to county residents. 

It requires the County Executive to lay out a detailed and robust plan to deliver vaccines countywide. 

"What I would like is a whole of government response that lays it all out so that the public knows, our partners know, so that everybody knows when we get the resources when we get the vaccine, where you can get it, and how you can get it. To be honest, we should have that. I'm disappointed we don't yet," said King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski.

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The legislation will call for a plan to have a low barrier for access. It should be equitable, said Dembowski.

"One concern that I have is we put a mass vaccination site in one part of the county, the folks that will get the vaccine are the wealthy or the insured. And the ones that are left out, are the ones that don't have money, don't have health insurance and don't have reliable transportation," said Dembowski. 

The legislation also calls for most King County residents to be vaccinated by June. 

"I think we should be looking at more of our partners, like senior centers where there are trusted relationships. Employers, where people can get them from a worksite," he said.

In late December, Ingrid Ulrey, policy director for Public Health Seattle-King County, expressed concern that a lack of federal funding could threaten to close testing sites when the focus turns to vaccine distribution.

"If we don't have the funding o meet our payroll, to pay for the people at our testing sites, we will not be able to keep them open," she said. "We'll continue to have a strong need for testing at least through the fall and maybe through the end of 2021."

Dembowski however said when it comes to this public health crisis, money should not be an issue. 

"We are a $12.5 billion dollar government and this is not a money issue. All resources are available from a financial perspective," he said. "We're still going to test, we're still going to educate, but we've got to put our foot on the gas and ramp this vaccination program up."

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