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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Washington state changing COVID-19 vaccine allocation to need-based approach

Gov. Inslee said some counties aren't using their full shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine, while other areas are in need.

SKYWAY, Wash. — The Washington Department of Health (DOH) is adjusting the way it allocates COVID-19 vaccines. The state said the change would ensure vaccines reach more people statewide and where they are needed most.

COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed pro-rata, meaning doses were allocated to counties based on the size of their population. But Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday some counties are not ordering the vaccine because they don't have enough people who want it.

"We can't send vaccines to counties and have them sit on a shelf," said Inslee.

The state said it is still seeing providers who are receiving fewer vaccines than requested. A spokesperson for DOH told KING 5, "This does give us more flexibility to quickly and equitably allocate vaccine to providers of all types while ensuring vaccine remains available to communities all across the state."

The DOH said it will assess the allocations weekly. Providers will continue to place a request, and the DOH will get input from local health jurisdictions on community vaccine priorities.

The state said this should help areas where it has been more difficult to find an appointment.

"A lot of people are searching for it. They want it," said Gilberto Toscano, who received his first dose of the vaccine at a pop-up clinic Thursday in Skyway.

How to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Washington 

Everyone in Washington state aged 16 and over is eligible for the vaccine.

Find a list of vaccine providers on the state's Vaccinate WA page and information on how to make an appointment.

Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for people 16 and 17 years old, and the state is working to update its Vaccine Locator with information about which vaccine is offered at each location.

Several health care providers allow people to join waiting lists for the vaccine, and they will contact you when doses are available. Join the waiting list for: