Appointments to get a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be extremely limited in Washington state this week as the Washington Department of Health (DOH) focuses on second doses.

DOH is still determining exactly how many first doses will be available in the week. For these available first doses, DOH will prioritize state and local mobile vaccination teams for long term care facilities and adult family homes; mass vaccination sites in King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Spokane counties; and other sites throughout the state that address equity. The state-run mass vaccination sites in Ridgefield, Kennewick, and Wenatchee will offer second doses only during this week, except for first dose appointments at the Ridgefield site that were rescheduled due to winter weather closures on Feb. 12 and 13.

Providers requested about 170,000 second doses for the week, significantly more than the state’s allocation of 92,325 second doses. The difference is likely due to the fact that some providers in Washington used doses of vaccine that were intended to complete the two dose vaccine series as the initial dose when vaccinating community members earlier in January. Unfortunately, this now means that a portion of next week’s available first doses will need to be used to complete the series for these people. This focus on second dose administration is anticipated to be for this coming week and is anticipated to be less so for upcoming weeks.

Additionally, it should be noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also be delaying vaccine delivery until Tuesday due to weather concerns across the country. Together, this means people who need to make an appointment for their first dose will likely not be able to do so next week, and some who have appointments for a first dose may be asked to reschedule.

“We are monitoring the distribution of doses closely and making adjustments as needed,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Secretary of Health. “While the limited availability of first doses will be challenging this coming week, focusing on second doses will help pave the way for an improved and more sustainable allocation of vaccines in future weeks.”

Some vaccine providers still have first dose inventory on hand that they can use for next week, and the newly launched federal pharmacy program will bring additional first dose vaccines into Washington next week.

For community members, if you are eligible for vaccine, please be patient as there will be limited availability for your initial vaccine dose this coming week. Even if you cannot get your vaccine this week, you will be able to get it soon. While the state still does not have enough doses to cover everyone who is currently eligible, the good news is that Washington’s allocation from the federal government is steadily increasing.