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Health department takes new approach to getting people vaccinated in south King County

The Kent-Auburn area is still working to reach a 70% vaccination rate.

KENT, Wash. — Public Health – Seattle & King County is taking a new approach to getting residents vaccinated against COVID-19 in south King County, where the number of fully vaccinated residents sits below 70%.

"We're pivoting both our resources and our strategy to continue to ensure that vaccine is available in Kent," said Ingrid Ulrey, policy director for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

Part of the new approach includes closing the vaccination site at the Kent ShoWare Center. The site, which opened in February, was one of Washington state's first mass vaccination sites.

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"Over 118,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine happened over the last six months at the ShoWare Center," said Kent Mayor Dana Ralph. "Extremely important to this community and, talking to the folks that work there, the statement that I used is they literally saved lives."

Kent's Public Health Center, located at 25742 104th Ave SE, will continue to offer COVID-19 vaccines Monday through Friday with no appointment necessary. Ralph said people could also find the vaccine at local pharmacies, health clinics, and future pop-up clinics.

On Monday, the health department announced 80% of residents over the age of 12 in King County had received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ralph acknowledged there is still work needed in the Kent-Auburn area, with 62% of its residents fully vaccinated.

The health department wants all zip codes in King County to reach a 70% vaccination rate, at least. Its focus right now for cities like Kent is helping individuals overcome barriers and hesitancy.

"Kent is our first pilot location for taking a hyperlocal or place-based approach," said Ulrey. "We're assigning a staff person. And in this case, it's someone who was born and raised in Kent who's equipped with a lot of knowledge, resources, and information about COVID and COVID vaccines. [We're] deploying her to focus very specifically on Kent."

Ulrey said this approach is aimed at addressing concerns, highlighting individual needs like childcare and transportation, and finding approaches for specific incentive programs to get people vaccinated.